Rebuilt Resources: Chapter 11 Get the Parish Out of the Pews

Everyone, not just the Missionaries of Charity, can do something beautiful for God. . . . This is the future—this is God’s wish for us—to serve through love in action.

—Blessed Mother Teresa

In chapter 11 of Rebuilt, Fr. Michael and Tom give practical advice on how to take “lay ecclesial ministry” to a whole new level in a parish. They describe the transformation that the members of their community experienced as they shifted from unsatisfied consumers to motivated ministers.

Their goal was simply to make every member a minister. “Ministry is supposed to be a team sport” (Rebuilt, 191).

How Do You Get People to Serve?

Building Ministry Teams: Every Member a Minister

In this video, Brian Cook talks about attracting and maintaining ministry teams:

At the Church of the Nativity, ministers agree to the following standards (described in detail in Rebuilt):

  1. Standard #1: Show up for ministry. 
  2. Standard #2: Minister casually.
  3. Standard #3: Minister prepared.
  4. Standard #4: Minister and worship.
  5. Standard #5: Minister to win.

You Can Do This! Starting New Ministries

  • Start a ministry (not a liturgical ministry): a host team to greet guests at your front door or a hospitality team to serve coffee in your lobby after Mass. Try to invite some new people who have never served before, in addition to regulars. Appoint a team leader you know and trust. Give him or her real authority as well as responsibility.
  • Invest in your leader and team, give them lots of your time as you launch your ministry. Together, reflect on your standards and values, what you’re looking for in terms of wins. Decide what you’re going to wear. Get t-shirts, badges, lanyards, or whatever works best in your setting and culture.
  • When you do launch, don’t make a big deal out of it with the larger congregation. If they do, fine, but you don’t. This is about under-promising and over-delivering: You might still have a long way to go in sustaining your new ministry.
  • Prepare for the inevitable setbacks (your leader quits; your team doesn’t show up on Sunday; someone complains about the effort itself ). Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. Keep turning the flywheel even if, from time to time, it’s all on you. But most of all keep investing in your team. That will ensure it’s not all on you all of the time.
  • After you’ve got your team solidly established, start a second team to serve in some other way (parking or ops). It will be easier the second time.