There is a crisis in the Church, but not the one you are thinking. This crisis is a lack of proper innovation and entrepreneurship in ministry. Pope Saint John Paul II famously called for a new evangelization — new in ardor, new in expression, and new in method. Sounds like the call of an entrepreneur! Pope Francis has called for a need for “accompaniment” and going out to the peripheries. Sounds a lot like — know your customer and expand into new markets.
For every one person who joins the Catholic Church, six leave. What we are doing in ministry is clearly not working, and we need to review with candor—with an eye toward measured, transformational impact—new approaches and methods to engage and retain those in the pews (re-evangelize) and to reach out to those that are not. A continued reorientation of the Church outward and further rediscovery of her missionary dynamism is needed. The “new methods” called for in the new evangelization, remaining faithful to the magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church, are even more needed today than when Saint John Paul II called for them. For this to take hold, we need a greater integration of solid theological formation combined with an entrepreneurial mindset (that, too, takes formation). It is a both/and. This integration needs to take place in the training received in theological and pastoral formation in our Catholic universities as well as in the pairing of gifts and talents with the needs in our parishes and dioceses. We need to begin incorporating design thinking and entrepreneurism into our seminaries, theological programs, and pastoral formation. To employ people who have degrees in theology and pastoral studies who cannot think like an entrepreneur will no longer work. And, to have the more entrepreneurially minded in our finance committees, but not in our ministries, is a mistake. Likewise the creative, innovative, risk-takers should not be marginalized and needing to move out to flourish. The creative represented by St. John and the institutional represented by St. Peter are both essential and needed.
This integration between solid formation, coupled with an entrepreneurial know-how, is lived out in the mission and members of Legatus. We need you! You are not only the ambassadors in the marketplace, but you can and should bring your professional expertise to bear on the ministries in your parish and diocese. Please again note—while your professional expertise could and should apply to the “business functions” or the operational management of your parish, it is even more needed in the very heart of ministry—helping to create innovative methods to reach people for Christ.
In addition to the need and hopeful rise of entrepreneurism, properly understood, in the Church, there is a need for a greater sharing of ideas. Too often, the programs and ministries in parishes and dioceses go on year after year and people do not know if they are effective and working. While in another area of the country a new method is working and thriving, this new idea isn’t being scaled, put into effect, and broadcast to places that need the information. Further, it is important to have a community where these innovative ideas can be vetted, enhanced, discussed, built upon, and scaled. Of course, that is what makes the Legatus chapter meetings, events, and forums so enriching. It goes beyond formation and fellowship; it is a place where new ideas related to outreach can be discussed and shared. But again, that can be limited in its regional scope. That is why OSV Institute is pleased to have sponsored and funded the new Legatus Networks. Through enriching and engaging conversations we as Legates can continue our formation, but also gain new insights and apply new ideas that can have a positive effect on the Church.
JASON SHANKS is the president of the OSV Institute, and will be a featured speaker at the 2020 Summit West in Colorado Springs. When not working, he enjoys playing with his five children: Nora, Xavier, Lila, Luke, and Ephrem. The OSV Institute is looking for big ideas leading to transformational impact. The OSV Innovation Challenge, located at www.osvchallenge.com, is hoping to spur innovative thinking and find creative ideas to advance the Gospel. He and his wife Melissa are members of the Fort Wayne Chapter.