If I told you that you could transform your parish culture in 5 easy steps, would you want to know how to do it? Even if it was hard, would you be willing to work at it? Would you be willing to pay a steep price to access the steps? If you respond “yes”, then you have “Catholic Silver Bullet Syndrome”. We all want easy solutions to difficult problems, the problem is, that isn’t how Catholic renewal works in real life.
Catholic leaders have been falling prey to Silver Bullet Syndrome for generations. Parishes buy the next hot video series, pastors implement new leadership strategies, DREs implement new curricula, Youth Ministers go to the best conferences, Bishops hire consultants to lead new pastoral planning processes, diocesan leaders buy boxes of books and give them away, etc. We have done these things for many years, looking for the quick and easy steps that will transform us and our parish culture.
But, it doesn’t work.
There are no silver bullets.
There are many things we can learn from this. The first is that these things (books, conferences, programs, etc) only accomplish what they are meant to accomplish. For instance, a conference can teach, be a place of encounter/conversion, start a relationship with another (or deepen it), etc. But a conference (or book, program, etc) cannot do the work that it takes to renew a parish. In other words, it isn’t the conferences, books, programs, events, etc that are bad. Rather, it is the way they are being used and the false expectations that are attached to them. The problem comes when Catholic leaders mistake them for the silver bullet that will guide them to renewal, transformation, or culture change.
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