We just launched our online course on mercy, and I want to tell you about a lesson I learned that might help you with your RCIA ministry. Diana and I spent a weekend last September brainstorming about ways we could do a better job of supporting RCIA teams in the coming year. We thought a series of small, online courses might fill a need.
But as soon as the initial excitement of the idea began to fade, I started to feel overwhelmed. How could we create an entirely new set of courses and not get completely crushed by the amount of work?
Small testable bites
To lift my spirits, I pulled out a strategy I learned long ago that I call “small bites.” Any project, no matter how big, can be broken down into bite size pieces. If you look only at the next small piece, you can easily imagine yourself doing just that.
Recently, I learned how to supercharge that strategy. Some people in the computer industry use a process called “scrum.” The whole process is too much to describe in one blog post, but here is one of the best parts. Scrummers use the “small bites” strategy that I was already using. But they string enough of those small bites together to make a thing in a short amount of time.
The thing is not the whole thing. It is a small part of the whole. But even though it is only a part, it has to be able to stand on its own. It has to be a complete part. It has to be complete enough that you can test it to see if it works.
So, for example, when we were building the mercy course, I set out to write just the first module, which is four lessons. My goal was to write that within a week. And then once I wrote it, I sent it out to a few people to test it.
And it worked! I got some great feedback about the module, the design, and the content. And that feedback fired me up to keep writing more lessons.
Scrumming your ministry
So how can you apply of this to your initiation process? You can apply it by taking anything that currently overwhelms you and turning it into small testable bites.
For example, if you can’t find enough sponsors, brainstorm some new strategies for recruiting. Do some research on how nonprofit organizations recruit volunteers. That’s a testable small bite right there.
Pick a strategy, adapt it for your situation, and test it for a week. That’s another testable small bite.
If the strategy doesn’t work, toss it and pick another strategy. That is a small bite.
When you find a strategy that works, train one or two more people how to use the strategy. Then see if, when all three of you are using the strategy, it still works. That’s another testable small bite.
Finally, recruit someone to take your place. Find someone who will learn the strategy, keep testing it, and keep training new people to implement it. That is your final small testable bite, and now you have developed a sponsor recruitment process.
One bite at a time
Think about this for a minute. If you’re overwhelmed at the thought of trying to find enough sponsors, what if instead you only thought about researching what nonprofits do to recruit volunteers? Don’t think about developing a full-blown sponsor program. Instead, think about a few Google searches, a trip to the library, and maybe lunch with someone who works for your local Catholic Charities. That’s easy.
How would you do it?
Try scrumming something yourself. Maybe sponsors are not your big headache. Take one of these examples, and tell us in the comments how you would break it down into testable bite size pieces:
- Moving from a school year model to a year-round model
- Getting the pastor more involved in the process
- Finding more team members
- Finding more inquirers
- Discerning if the seekers are ready
- Planning the RCIA rituals for the year
- Becoming a better catechist
- Managing my time
I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
1 thought on “Make your RCIA ministry bite size”
Reading this article came at the best time. This year we tried the best we could to implement year round inquiry. The people who contacted us were already baptized. It’s been very joyful working with them together and also somewhat individually.
Short story, working with them, the single catechumen and the 8 and 9 year old boys as additions to my job description tasks has been rough. Thought I could do it. Now I’m beat. I’m going to look at scrumming and make some changes.
Happy Easter to you and Diana.