Parish Newsletter

A Service of the Parish Evaluation Project

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


November, 2005

If You Build A Committee, They Will Come:

            We are presuming a commission structure in which there is not only a pastoral council but five commissions as well, each one coordinating and giving direction to one aspect of the parish, including the areas of worship, community life, formation, outreach and administration.  We are also presuming that members of these commissions are connecting with each ministry, organization or subgroup associated with that area.  Not only are they making contact with the heads of each subgroup but they are also assessing what needs help, assistance or a new focus.  Besides linking with subgroups, assessing needs and setting goals, each commission also funnels tasks to committees or ministries which in turn accomplish what has to be done.  If no committee or ministry exists for implementing a needed task, then new committees must be formed.


A Sample Committee For Each Commission:

It often happens in the parishes we work with that new committees are needed in order to implement the goals created by the commissions.  In Worship, for instance, there might be a need to create a Liturgy Planning Committee.  This is a subgroup of the Worship Commission whose focus is the planning of good liturgies that fit the unique tone and style of each Mass on the weekend.  In Community Life, there is often a need to create a Volunteer Coordinating Committee to handle the recruitment and management of volunteers in the parish.  The Formation or Education Commission often has to form an Adult Enrichment Committee that maps out a year-long plan for adult formation incorporating a variety of offerings and options.  For Outreach it is usually necessary to set up an Inactives Committee which has the task of connecting with those who do not attend Mass regularly.  Finally, in Administration, the commission might set as one of its goals to create a Communications Committee to handle all the publicity and information-sharing in the parish, including bulletin, website, newsletter, signs, brochures, handouts and posters.


A Two Step Process For The Creation Of A Committee:

The first step is to develop a job description that spells out what needs to be accomplished.  It is up to the commission to create this description, at least in a general way, so that those interested in joining the committee know what would be expected of them, what skills or expertise are required and what meeting times and personal commitments will be necessary.  In the formation of a Communications Committee, for instance, the Administration Commission would describe the scope of the job as including the four areas of bulletin assessment, website maintenance, newsletter creation and image-building around the property.  The skills required might include graphic arts, computer expertise, marketing experience and the like.  Once the job is defined and a timeline established for implementation, the second step for the commission is to seek out volunteers who meet these qualifications and could accomplish the task.  To find these people members of the commission would ask the staff, council and other commission members to suggest names, as well as solicit names from other parishioners.  The commission would then make personal contacts with those having the necessary skills and abilities for the job.  A good place to begin is to identify one or two persons to head up the committee and serve as the nucleus of the group.  Others are added to the committee as names begin to surface from the parish-wide search process.  Once the committee is formed, the members are given the job description and a deadline for the first “progress report” to be given to the commission.  With that in hand, it then is up to the committee to accomplish its task in whatever way it thinks best.