Parochial Thinking

Pope Francis invites us to take our  ministry to the peripheries.  The challenge to that is when we can only think / imagine from within the boundaries of our group, demographics, geographic borders, whatever.  It comes down to  Parochial Thinking.

According to  Wikipedia: Parochialism is the state of mind, whereby one focuses on small sections of an issue rather than considering its wider context. More generally, it consists of being narrow in scope. In that respect, it is a synonym of “provincialism”. It may, particularly when used pejoratively, be contrasted to universalism. The term originates from the idea of a parish ([Late] Latin: parochia), one of the smaller divisions within many Christian churches such as the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.

wiifm1I recently participated in a planning session for a multi-church event; one we had never done before… and found myself having difficulty negotiating with “that’s not the way we do things.”  (Ahem, we have never done this before together, so how ’bout actually planning from a  blank slate?)  In the end, I discerned that I was planning for an event bigger than all  of  us together while they had very specific (and limited)  populations for whom they were planning.  We have all witnessed the  collaborating minister at a shared event who would be obsessively insistent about rules for all, except when they might come into application related to himself or his people.

I have sat on national  boards planning national things and found the group  bogged down into what is in this (not for the many for whom I represent but) for me and mine! Once, I suggested that they all  their take a moment and describe a baseball cap from back home – representing their  own home teams or local programs.  I invited them to mentally admire themselves in that cap for a moment.  Then, they were all invited to take the caps off and to pack  them away.  Following that I distributed imagined baseball caps (budget limitations, ya’know!) and described them emblazoned with the logo of the national  board for  who  they served.  Throughout the remainder of the time, it was easy to reference “which cap are you wearing” when parochialism/ self-interests crept into conversation.

Next time you find yourself  collaborating, pack a cap that  will help you reach to the peripheries.

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D. Scott Miller

D. Scott Miller is the dean of Catholic Youth Ministry bloggers which is a polite way of either saying that he is just plain old or has been blogging for a long time (since 2004.)

Scott recently married the lovely Anne and together they have five adult young people and also grandparent three delightful kids (so, maybe he is just plain old!) Scott presently serves at Saint John the Evangelist in Columbia, MD as the director of youth and young adult ministry.

He has previously served on the parish, regional, diocesan, and national levels as well as having taught within a catholic high school. He is one of the founders of RebuildMyChurch and has returned to posting regularly (keeping regular is important to old guys) at ProjectYM.


D. Scott Miller


D. Scott Miller is the dean of Catholic Youth Ministry bloggers which is a polite way of either saying that he is just plain old or has been blogging for a long time (since 2004.)

Scott recently married the lovely Anne and together they have five adult young people and also grandparent three delightful kids (so, maybe he is just plain old!) Scott presently serves at Saint John the Evangelist in Columbia, MD as the director of youth and young adult ministry.

He has previously served on the parish, regional, diocesan, and national levels as well as having taught within a catholic high school. He is one of the founders of RebuildMyChurch and has returned to posting regularly (keeping regular is important to old guys) at ProjectYM.



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