Ruth: I see a two-fold problem here. First of all, there are so many messages out there competing with the Gospel it is difficult to make the message of God heard among so many voices. People seem to always be in a hurry, and slowing down enough to let the message take root in their hearts can be a real challenge. There always seems to be something else to do rather than nurture one’s relationship with Jesus.
There is also an issue that may be peculiar to this part of the country. Here the terminology of “evangelizing” and “discipleship” has been taken over by some of the more aggressive evangelical denominations. Because of that, and with many of our parishioners above the age of 50 there is the immediate reaction of “that sounds really Protestant” when those words are used. We’ve done a great deal of work reclaiming those concepts as Scriptural and explaining how they apply to all Christians. The ChristLife™ program has been a big help with that.
What features of Mission Pathways’ software are the most beneficial to you?
Ruth: I like the ability to do so many things with the Participants database. I’ve been using it for the Following Christ course in Christlife™. It has made it very easy to take attendance, to keep track of groups, and to keep track of food and other volunteer functions. What’s more, when we had to suspend the program due to COVID-19, I was able to get out the notification emails in about 2 minutes, as opposed to the several hours it would have taken me to do each one by hand.
Why did you decide to use Mission Pathways?
Ruth: It was recommended to me by one of the people with ChristLife™ as an easy way to track the effectiveness of the program in terms of increased parish participation. We saw the value of it providing the hard data we need to measure the programs we offer.
After 41 years in public education with a special ed background, thinking in terms of data-driven decision-making is pretty much part of my DNA. After talking to the people at Mission Pathways, I was confident that their software would fill the bill, and so far it has done well.
What advantages does Mission Suite have over how you did things before?
Ruth: Before using the software, I had the information, but it was not all in one place, rather it was scattered throughout several Microsoft and ParishSOFT™ applications. The Mission Suite allows me to pull information together much more quickly and to perform tasks like group emails much more efficiently. In addition, I feel that it will give me the tools to track information over time regarding the participation and success rate of parish programs, which in turn will help with data-driven decision making about future programs.
How has evangelization transformed your parish?
Ruth: Until the COVID-19 lockdown we were rocking and rolling with outreach and providing programs targeted at various demographic groups. That has slowed down some, but the energy is still there in many of our groups, so we have transferred as much as we could to online platforms like Zoom and GroupMe. Streaming Masses over social media has had an unexpected benefit.
There are people who have not physically been to Mass in quite a while who are “attending” daily Mass now, so one of our major next steps will be reaching out to them to try to draw them back into active participation in the parish. Also, some of our parishioners have shared the Facebook live-streamed services with non-Catholic friends, who have watched and begun to ask questions. We hope that this will transfer into active inquiry through RCIA later in the year.
Any final thoughts?
Ruth: I see this as a valuable tool to help us get an idea of how much our outreach and faith formation programs are impacting the lives of our parishioners. Have we created a hunger in them to learn more and to share their faith more widely? Are we attracting people who may not have been actively engaged before? Who is participating in our RCIA program?
All in all, I hope that using this program becomes a way that we can serve the spiritual and faith formation needs of our community in a more effective way.
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