Marketing guru Seth Godin goes a bit over the top in a rant about the ineffectiveness of nonprofits to cause change in the world. But one question he asks struck me as particularly apt for parish leaders:
When was the last time you had an interaction with a non-profit (there’s that word again) that blew you away?
We might ask, when has anyone had an interaction with our parishes that blew them away?
Godin’s post could be brushed aside as a message to “big” nonprofits, but that would be a mistake. In your zip code, your parish is the most likely and potentially most effective source of change for the people of that neighborhood. Red Cross or even Catholic Charities cannot hope to have the impact your parish can have, because you live there and they don’t.
On the one hand, I wouldn’t take Godin’s comments too seriously. Some of his markers of success for a nonprofit seem silly. (e.g. having lots of Twitter posts; to read someone who disagrees with Godin’s post, click here.)
On the other hand, his underlying concern should keep us all up at night. Do our parishes really make a difference? Are we causing the world to change?
What do you think? Do you see Catholic parishes as a force for change in the world? Can you share some examples or best practices?