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
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