I saw a facebook post today from a fellow priest (hello Ruth!) discussing the churches she is looking after during their vacancy. Ruth asked what clergy would like to see in a parish profile.
When looking for a new job recently I had a browse through quite a few. It was interesting reflecting on what my criteria were for investigating further. Fair to say the job I got had a goodly amount of the below.
So for anyone involved in parish profile writing, here’s my advice.
1) Say what your mission is, and where you want a priest to join in with that mission. Don’t say “we are looking for someone to shape our mission” If you don’t know what you’re there for, it’s going to be a struggle for any priest to motivate you.
2) Remove the words “vibrant” and “friendly” from any parish profile. Every church thinks they’re friendly, even the really horrible ones. When it comes to being friendly and vibrant, Show don’t tell. It should be clear from the profile.
3) If you’ve done a SWOT analysis, share it in the profile. A congregation that knows itself is always better than one who doesn’t, however large the “T” section of the SWOT is.
4) A priest in looking at your parish profile is prepared to move house and home, in order to join in a community of people who seek to be faithful to God and to love one another. Try and share that in the profile. If you make your parish profile sound like a professional business document, you’re saying something about how the parish feels about itself. No-one wants to be part of a family whose chief characteristic is good pagination and formatting.
5) If you have lots of pictures of your church and no pictures of your people, you are telling the priest that the building is more important than the congregation.
6) If you make no mention about growth and the future, you are telling the priest that you have no vision for growth or the future.
7) If you DO want to grow, and change, and get new people in and have more children in your church – show that you actually mean that – say what you are prepared to change in order to have that happen. There are plenty of books on church growth and change – make sure before you write your profile someone has read at least one of them!