At every training institute we lead, Diana and I almost always hear from folks that what they love most about the event is the chance to hear great ideas from other RCIA teams. That’s always great to hear. But it causes me to wonder about a couple of things.
The first thing I wonder is, how well does an idea from Parish A translate to Parish B? Maybe I’m the only person who does this, but often when I hear a great idea, I tend to drop everything to go implement the shiny new plan as quickly as possible. Often, in my rush, I fail to think through the consequences. Soon, my shiny new idea begins to dull, and I lose enthusiasm for it. Meanwhile, my “boring” regular plans have gone unattended to while I was distracted with the new innovation.
The second thing I wonder is, how do folks who cannot attend a training institute come up with new ideas? Sometimes we really do need a new spark to jumpstart us out of old ruts and unexamined habits.
Write down your ideas
My solution to both of these situations is to write. Every time I hear a new idea, I write it down. Then I don’t do anything with it for a while. I know the idea is there, in my notebook, and I won’t forget it. Once I’ve written it down, I can let the idea gestate. I can think through all the possible benefits and downsides. If, after a week or two, I still think the new idea is a good one, then I might start taking small steps to implement it.
Writing is also how I come up with new ideas on my own. Every morning, I write down ten new ideas. These don’t have to be about RCIA or even about anything useful. The exercise is simply to keep my mind looking forward and practiced in thinking up new stuff. For example, this morning I wrote down ten new dishes I want to cook. The other day, I wrote down ten things I used to be interested in when I was a kid. The secret is to stick to the discipline of making a list of ten things every day. Your brain will begin to start thinking up new stuff regularly — sometimes new stuff about your RCIA process.
If writing isn’t your thing, make voice memos. Most smart phones have a dictation function that turns your thoughts into text. Or you can just record audio files to make your lists and capture your new ideas.
What to do with all your ideas
So what do you do with all your lists and new ideas? Nothing. The point of the exercise is the exercise itself. It is a training program for your brain. You never have to go back to the lists. If an idea you captured or listed is really great, it will keep coming back to you. If that starts to happen, then pay attention to it. Make more lists that will tell you more about your really great idea. For example: ten reasons this is a great idea; ten reasons this is a bad idea; ten people I can talk with about this idea; ten things I’d have to curtail to implement this idea; ten ways to get started on this idea; ten reasons to wait on starting this idea.
Share some ideas now
So here is a challenge for you. I have listed below ten ideas of lists you can generate. Choose one idea (or come up with your own), and post your list of ten about that idea in the comments box. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.
Ten things to create a list of ten about
- Ten ways to attract new inquirers
- Ten ways to delegate my tasks
- Ten easy ways to involve my pastor more in RCIA
- Ten books to read before Easter
- Ten ways to nourish myself spiritually
- Ten ways to improve our mystagogy process
- Ten saints to ask for intercession
- Ten treats to bring to our formation sessions
- Ten things to stop doing by Easter
- Ten reasons I am Catholic
See also these related articles:
- RCIA unwrapped
- The power of ten — how to generate great ideas for RCIA
- How to feed 5,000 on a Tuesday in Advent
- Why RCIA ministry is overwhelming — and what to do about it
- Pope Francis’s message to RCIA teams: Avanti!
Photo by Cathryn Lavery | Unsplash