Has this ever happened to you? You went to a workshop or read a book or saw something online, and a lightbulb clicked on. Suddenly, everything was so clear about how to structure the catechumenate process. Or maybe just one part of the process. The point is, before you didn’t know and now you did. Things had to change.
So what did you do? You probably did what I would do or anyone would do. You rushed back to the parish and immediately started changing things to make them right. Right?
Well, if you have ever actually had an experience like that and tried to change things like that (I have), you know what happens. The more sure you are about the change you want to make, the greater the resistance to the change. And that is soooo frustrating.
What to do when your RCIA ministry changes are met with resistance
It can help ease the frustration a little if you remember that most people aren’t resisting your great idea because they think you’re wrong. They just don’t like change. I had a pastor tell me that once. “You’re absolutely right,” he said. “But I don’t like change, and neither do the parishioners.” Okay, maybe that didn’t help ease the frustration, but at least I didn’t feel like I was crazy.
Sometimes you’ll get stopped before you even get started. Other times, you will have the authority or influence to actually make some changes. And when you do — that’s when the real resistance starts. People will complain; they’ll call the pastor; they’ll threaten to quit; they’ll talk about you to their friends. And when all that happens, we sometimes want to back down. We know things have to change, but change is hard.
I’ve been on both sides of change. I’ve been the change agent and had people mad at me. And I’ve experienced change that I had no control over, and it made me angry. What is true is, change happens. It can happen because we plan for it, or it can happen to us when we don’t expect it.
John P. Kotter believes in planning for change. He is a professor emeritus at the Harvard Business School and a thought leader in business and leadership. Kotter has an eight-step strategy he uses with businesses to get them to plan for positive change rather than let unwelcome change happen to them. I wrote about some of Kotter’s ideas in previous posts.
Applying select business strategies to RCIA ministry
A few years ago, I saw that Leisa Anslinger was also writing about Kotter’s ideas. Leisa believes in planning for change as well. She is a consultant and mentor to parishes in North America in the areas of evangelization, faith formation, and stewardship. Leisa was translating Kotter’s strategies from the business world to help parishes plan for positive change instead of letting unwelcome change surprise them.
So I asked Leisa if she could do the same thing for us RCIA folks. I wanted to know if she could explain to us how to use Kotter’s planning techniques to develop and strengthen parish catechumenate processes. She said she’d love to try.
Well she did more than try. Liturgical Press has just published her book, A Vision for Conversion: Eight Steps to Radically Change Your RCIA Process. It is a masterful guide to planning for positive change. And the way Leisa writes makes you feel like she’s sitting right next to you, supporting you and gently explaining how to lead your team and your parish to real growth.
I wish I would have had this book all those times when a lightbulb clicked on and I knew we had to change things. I knew that things had to change. What I didn’t know — and what Leisa teaches us — is how to plan for change in way that doesn’t rock the boat.
I hope you’ll get this book, and a highlighter, and a stack of sticky notes, and start planning for change soon. Change is going to happen. It can either happen because we plan for it or because we let it happen to us.
What are your experiences with “rocking the boat” in your RCIA ministry? What are areas you’d like to strengthen in your RCIA ministry? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
See also these related articles:
- Is your RCIA open all year-round? Managing expectations in a changing world
- RCIA will never be the same again
- A few things you probably didn’t know about the Rite of Election
- What happens when you rock the RCIA boat?
- Here’s the number-one rule for building an RCIA team
- 6 essential rules for communicating a new RCIA vision
- Get an RCIA vision for your parish (angelic visitation optional)
- Make the shift from “RCIA team” to “coalition for change”
- 5 ways RCIA leaders can overcome “the way we’ve always done it”
- Can your RCIA team recognize these 6 deadly barriers to conversion?
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash