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ship. Rarely do our parishes have expectations for committees other than

membership with a largely reporting or advisory function. It is important

to regard these committees as small groups in need of evangelization and

intentional spiritual formation, thus shifting the paradigm from mainte-

nance to mission in the parish. Those parishioners who form the inner

workings of the parish must be evangelized so that they too can share the

Good News with others. As noted, prayer is central to this missionary

endeavor. Many of our parish committees are separated by their area of

interest (worship, catechesis, welcoming, etc.), but there is tremendous

value in bringing all of these groups together regularly to pray, reflect, and

discern in order to foster a culture of missionary discipleship in the parish.

This also integrates each ministry with the greater work and mission of the

parish and Church overall. It ensures a spirit of collaboration and invites

each ministry outside of self-contained groups. When each group or minis-

try in the parish is evangelized, they are better able to be unified in the mis-

sion of evangelization of the parish as a whole. Gathering for prayer before,

during, and after the process is critical for the success of pastoral planning.

Effective planning needs to be permeated with an atmosphere of

prayer so that the Holy Spirit can guide the process and prune accordingly.

It is in personal and communal prayer that the disciple, fed by Word and

sacraments, cultivates a relationship of deep friendship with Jesus Christ

and seeks to embrace the will of the Father through the Holy Spirit.

Eucharistic nourishment and daily prayer is a sign of the primacy of grace

in the missionary disciple’s journey. Effective planning ought to make

provision for ample opportunities for prayer and spiritual formation in

the parish. Without the deep breath of prayer, our efforts will lose fervor,

become fragmented, and ultimately become fruitless. Prayer is the foun-

dation of all pastoral planning efforts and leads to a greater intensification

of our ministry and mission. As such, mission-centered ministry is always

concerned with bearing good fruit that will last (see Jn 15:16).

2. Effective Planning for Ministry Is Focused

on Fruitfulness

The parish must be concerned with bearing fruit throughout the disciple-

ship process. This shift in focus ensures that attention is directed toward

pruning what is ineffective so that new life and fruit can occur. Through-

out Scripture, the metaphor of fruit is used many different times and in