How do we build a productive faith leadership team? Here’s my story.
For most of my career as a DRE, I was blessed to work with a great pastor who was also my friend. I had known him before I took the job, and when the day came when he asked me to take on the leadership role in faith formation, I felt very comfortable with the decision. I haven’t regretted a minute of it. If there was one thing that made this partnership work, it was our consistent communication. He never liked surprises, so any time I felt there might be an issue or potential concern, we met about it. I kept him in the loop with just about everything, and because of that ongoing contact, we worked really well together.
I’m blessed to have a business background, so building teams came pretty easy. I have always felt that first and foremost, I wanted to hire someone who had a good relationship with the Lord. Degrees and experience, while certainly important and necessary, weren’t necessarily the determining factors. Instead, I wanted to know about the person’s prayer life, had he ever been on retreat, what was her faith experience growing up, had she ever had a conversion experience, etc.
In my mind, we can train just about anyone to do just about anything. We can’t make them love the Lord, however, and follow his will. Once my team was in place, we began looking at everything we were doing. Was it right? Was it necessary? Could we do it better, using other methods and/or resources? The whole process took about a year, but in the end, things really came together, primarily because everyone had the chance to give their input. Building a team has to include the insights of all the stakeholders, not just some.
We would need many more catechists, classroom assistants, and hall monitors if we were going to be successful in reducing the number of students in each classroom. This was on the wish list of just about every catechist. We would have to provide quality training, ongoing support, and most importantly, daily intercessory prayer.
Throughout my first summer as DRE, I met with each catechist. I asked them for ways I could be a better support to them. An outcome of these conversations was the development of a twice-yearly catechist in-service done at the parish. The catechists didn’t want to travel, and they wanted the chance to really get to know the other catechists. Of all the things I did at that parish over the course of 11 years, these potluck in-services were one of the most important changes I made. Much good came from them, and in reality, none of them was hard to put together.
What tips do you have for building a productive faith leadership team?