Becoming New in Christ
Following Bishop Tim’s adoption of six parish Common Directions after the 2021 Diocesan Assembly he has released a Diocesan Support Plan for 2022 to assist parishes to implement the Common Directions.
2021 was a year of consultation, in parishes first and at diocesan level after that. Bishop Tim Harris is not asking parishes to jump into action straight away except for the action of reflecting on and discussing aspects of renewal in Christ that are key to a parish’s mission today. Using the wisdom emerging from our parishes and elsewhere Bishop Tim will put together a diocesan framework for revitalising the mission of our parishes. That will lead to action in 2022.
The parish consultation will include three themes - BELONG, BELIEVE and BECOME.
Why are we using Belong, Believe, Become to explore becoming new in Christ?
Here are the reasons:
- Each word captures an important part of the mission of a Catholic parish. See the boxes below.
- The words are positive and easily understood immediately - they are not Church jargon; yet, they have great depth. They will lead on to other important key words and concepts along the journey.
- It’s not only about the individual words but the sequence in which they are applied; the sequence Belong Believe Become is necessary for the mission of a Catholic parish today, but that is not what we tend to do. We all too easily do the opposite - Become Believe Belong – that is, we give people the message: ‘you become like us (fit in straight away) and we’ll show you what to believe, and then we might let you belong.’ This was not Jesus’ way, not what Pope Francis is calling for, and thwarts a major purpose (mission) for which the parish exists: reaching people who do not know Jesus.
If our parishes are to be renewed and revitalised it will not be brought about simply by a program, or a rationalising of resources (even though some of that will have to happen), or a plan (that will definitely need to happen). We have to renew and refocus our parish cultures (our routine ways of thinking, being and acting) to better serve Jesus’ mission, reaching outwards and growing deeper - Belong Believe Become in that order. Over time, this will take reflection, prayer, soul searching, conversation with each other, leadership, commitment and a whole-of-parish approach. This is both exciting and challenging.