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When I was in college, I took several semesters of archery. I really loved shooting arrows at targets, but what ultimately won me over was the nature of archery; you immediately know how you are doing, based on where you hit the target. Still, there was one time that I hit a bullseye, which scored a zero because I was aiming at the wrong target! The problem is - too many Catholic parishes and dioceses are aiming for the wrong thing and miss the target. Then when questions arise about why the results they expected aren’t happening, they are puzzled.
To further illustrate this problem, we need to understand that what we value is measured and what we measure, we generally value more. In our current Catholic context, we measure:
Sacraments - Number - Baptisms - Weddings - Confirmations
Sacraments received (i.e., the number of baptisms, weddings, Confirmations, etc).
This means we value these things. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with tracking these things (and we certainly need to value the Sacraments). The numbers we track in these instances are objective and can give us a broad overview. But, if these are the only things we track, then we may be aiming at the wrong target, because we start to value these things above others. Therefore, to understand what we need to track, in addition to the list above, we need to start what knowing the correct target.
Target - Again - Health - Goals - Mission
Before we recalibrate our target, look back at what we currently track and see what they each have in common. You might notice they are all inwardly focussed. Again, to measure the health of a parish, you need to know what is going on internally - but there are no outwardly focussed goals. Nothing about mission. Nothing about conversion. Nothing about evangelizing the community. Nothing about outreach to those far from God. This...
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