Is your Parish Running Like a Major League Team?
You might not think winning matters much when it comes to your Catholic parish, but winning a baseball game is far less important than winning a soul for Christ. Let’s take a look at four differences between running a little league team and a major league team and at how you can be sure your parish is striving to “run so as to win” (1 Cor. 9:24).
1. Setting Goals
Little League Teams: At best, a little league team’s goals are for everyone to have a nice time, enjoy the game, learn a little bit and have some fun. In reality, everyone is watching out for their own kid and self-interests. Some just want to have fun, some want to be competitive, some only care that their kid has a good day, etc.
Major League Teams: There is one constant and unchanging team goal: Win—and no individual desire is placed ahead of that goal. If you perform poorly, you are expected to work to improve; you will get help from coaches, but a player who can’t improve will be replaced.
The best parishes set clear goals, measure performance and hold people accountable. They don’t allow an individual’s needs to be placed ahead of the parish’s needs. Can this get tricky? Absolutely. Holding people accountable is rarely comfortable, and people will disagree about goals and objectives. But if you aim for nothing, then that’s exactly what you’ll hit.
2. Positions and Playing Time
Little League Teams: Every kid gets a chance to play every position, regardless of ability.
Major League Teams: Everyone specializes in one position. It might be a secondary position or a ‘utility’ player, but the best players have one specialty and stick to it to best utilize their skills and talents to win the game.
Like a major league team, the best parishes align their resources in service of the parish’s greater mission: They don’t waste people, finances or other resources.
3. Keeping Score
Little League Teams: At the youngest ages, we don’t keep score. Everyone is just there to have fun.
Major League Teams: Everything is measured against the score. The goal and purpose is to win—to score more than the other team. If something doesn’t drive in runs or prevent the other team from doing so, then it doesn’t matter. Period.
The best parishes keep score. If you don’t keep score, you’ll never know what it means to win. Major league parishes don’t let ideas, events, strategies, or initiatives get by without serious scrutiny. I’ve been at parish events where 50 people from the 2,000-family parish showed up and no one ever said: “Hey, that right there, that didn’t work. Let’s figure out what went wrong so it doesn’t happen again.” Instead we get clichés: “Well, quality over quantity” and “Ministry isn’t really about the numbers.”
4. Keeping Statistics
Little League Teams: Teams keep rudimentary statistics at best, and those aren’t usually shared with players or parents.
Major League Teams: No other sport is as obsessed with statistics as Major League Baseball. Everything someone does on the field is scrutinized. Every action on the field is measured, recorded, analyzed and evaluated for improvement.
The best parishes measure performance so they know what is working and what isn’t. They track numbers, such as attendance, giving, participation and volunteer hours. They can identify best practices and opportunities for improvement, because they know!
Everyone wants to belong to a major league parish. Communities thrive when there is a clear goal, resources are aligned to achieving that goal, everyone knows what is meant by a “win” and every effort is analyzed for continuous improvement. If you aren’t sure whether your parish is a major league parish just yet, now is a perfect opportunity to step up to the plate and help. Batter up!
This article appeared in the September 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.