Stop Doing, Start Thinking

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed about myself and other ministry leaders I know is how much time we spend putting on events and trying to get people to attend those events. The typical parish has a lot of activities going on.

photo by karola riegler photography

In any given week at the church, there is liturgy, youth ministry, children’s ministry, stewardship drives, music practice, liturgical training, pastoral and finance council meetings, adult faith formation, service projects and young adult ministry. If you are like some parishes, times that by the number of cultural communities represented in the church, Latino, Vietnamese, Korean, etc.…

There is a lot of busyness in the church. But where does it all lead?

In the past (okay, in the present as well), I was notorious for starting ministry after ministry after ministry. On Sunday we’d have a youth mass and a high school ministry. On Monday we would have middle school ministry. On Tuesday we would have a core team meeting. On Thursday we would have young adult ministry. On the weekends, we’d have retreats and service projects. Wow, I was busy!

Why? Because it was all good stuff and it was all for God.

Okay, that last statement was definitely true, but what my ministry lacked was an intentional plan. I would start a ministry because it sounded like a good idea. It was a good idea! However, I did not have a long term plan to see how all these ministries fit together.

I believe that you and I need to spend more time being more intentional about looking long term in our ministry to see where we are and to map out where we are going.

We need to stop doing and start thinking.

Here are four ways that we need to think differently before we go about launching ministry after ministry after ministry:

1. Think long-term:
Ministry leaders need to create a long-term vision for the ministry they lead. This should culminate in the creation of a ministry strategic plan. The plan could be a two-year, 3-year, or 5-year plan. But the plan does not need to be set in stone. The plan can change as needed. That’s not the point. The point is to create clarity around your goals for the future of your ministry and to start intentionally moving in that direction.

2. Let go of numbers:
Hoping to grow our ministry is important. We should pay attention to the number of participants we have attending our ministry events. However, when we focus solely on numbers, we are distracted from the ultimate reason for our ministry; helping people have a vibrant faith in God that is rooted in the community.

3. Don’t start a new ministry until you see how it fits in with the big picture:
New and creative ministry ideas are important. But, slow down in launching that new idea. How does it fit with what you have going on already? Do you have time to start this new ministry? These are really important questions to ask. If you don’t ask these questions, you will have more ministry than you have time to lead.

4. Set right expectations:
High expectations can be helpful, but we need to set the right expectations. Sometimes those high expectations come from external sources, like a pastor or parents. Often times, the expectations are internal. They come from ourselves. We expect more of ourselves than is realistic. Don’t set high expectations for yourself. Set the right expectations.

Stop doing and start thinking. Yes, we’re experts at running multiple ministries at the same time. Take a moment right now and think through everything you have going on in your ministry.

Question: Do you have too many ministries on your plate? How do they all fit together?

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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