At almost every TeamRCIA institute Diana and I have led over the last two years, someone will complain that some aspect of the RCIA process they are doing is not working. And we will then ask why they keep doing it. And invariably the reply is, “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
I grant you, it is easy to just keep our heads down and keep doing what we know how to do and keep doing what we think needs to be done. But effective teams don’t do that. They pull their heads up and ask why. So here are some crucial questions every RCIA team should be asking.
Why are we doing this?
Are you seriously doing what you are doing just because that’s the way it’s always been done? Did someone tell you to do what you are doing? Why is it important? What is it for? Who benefits? How, exactly, do they benefit?
What problem are you solving?
Are seekers confused by what you ask of them? Do parishioners understand what problem you are solving? Does the pastor? Sometimes we think we are solving a problem that isn’t really a problem. It’s time to get real and define clearly what problem you are actually solving and be able to show some evidence that it is getting solved.
Is what you are doing useful?
Are you making disciples or just making Catholics? Is your RCIA process considered successful if you have a lot of initiates at the Easter Vigil or if you have a lot of disciples who are doing the mission long after the Easter Vigil? There is a difference.
Will this change behavior?
Is your RCIA process actually changing anything? Are more of the poor being served? Are families growing stronger? Are you parish numbers growing? Is there more evangelization happening? If what you are doing isn’t changing behavior, why are you doing it?
Is there an easier way?
We like to imagine that a lot of what we do in the RCIA is pretty difficult. It’s not really. It takes discipline and passion, but the actual work is not that hard. If it seems hard for your RCIA team, ask yourselves if there is an easier way.
What could you be doing instead?
Every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. What have you been saying no to? Should you be doing that instead?
I would suggest you and your team spend some time asking each other these questions. It doesn’t have to be a big formal process. Send out an e-mail with a link to this post. Ask everyone to think about the questions. Ask them to “reply all” with one comment about one question. Then, every so often, send out the link again and ask for comments.
Also, have some courage about stopping something you’ve been doing for a long time. Many times, we are afraid to let go of something because so many people have put so much time and effort into doing things the way we have always done them. But continuing processes that we know are ineffective is not good stewardship. Start moving toward a more effective RCIA process today by asking yourselves some of the questions I’ve given you here.
What questions can you add?
Do you have other questions you can add to the list? Do you have a story about something you stopped doing that you can share?