Rebuilt: The Story of a Catholic Parish

I have seen little discussion in these forums about the book Rebuilt (buy it here) but from what I hear it is sweeping the nation as a sensation in parish management. Our pastor has introduced it and is eager to implement many of the changes to revitalize our community. I would be interested to hear from other people who have either read the book, observed Nativity parish activities, or had their own parish implement the blueprint locally.

I’ve heard about the book. Most of what it talks about are Protestant strategies used in the ‘mega-churches’ we flip past on television. Most of the strategies are not suitable for orthodox catholic worship.

I HAVE read the book and did not find this at all. As it all cases, some things will work in some parishes and not in some.

Perhaps one should actually read something before having such a negative opinion and book. And besides, if you “flip past the TV stations” how do YOU KNOW what those Protestant strategies are? :shrug:

I found the book interesting. I’ve returned it to the library so don’t have it at hand, but one of the ideas that stood out to me is how welcoming a parish is.

There’s kind of a question of who is the Church aiming for – the people who are already included or the people outside? If we’re aiming at bringing the people on the outside to the inside, then we need to be open to what they want and need.

Just a simple example: I took a course to be certified in Christian initiation (RCIA). One of our assignments was to assess our parish to see how welcoming it was to visitors. We were asked to have a non-Catholic friend visit and then talk with them about the experience. The friend who visited my parish commented that she liked the greeters at the door – they made her feel like it was OK to come in. My parish doesn’t use missalettes and she felt lost during Mass, not knowing when to stand up or sit down and not knowing the responses that everyone around her seemed to know. So as a starting point, perhaps we could acquire at least a few missalettes and the greeters could offer them as people come in. (She had a lot more to say and it led to an interesting discussion with the pastor, but so far no real changes.)

I picked it up in B&N the other day and read it for about an hour until I stopped. For your information.

And I flip past them now, because I have seen them, and can’t stand them.

From my reading of it. Most of the book focuses on making the congregation a happier bunch of people. Which isn’t what Church is about. We don’t come to Church to feel good about ourselves. We come to Church to worship and partake of the Body and Blood of Christ to strengthen us. There is a reason it is called the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

For what it’s worth, Michael Voris has a very interesting commentary on that very book.

youtube.com/watch?v=21hKF_KHjpQ&list=UUX17igkZ9JhU64JoTBVSWeQ&feature=share&index=5

He seems to agree with nysacerdote.

Yeah, the Voris video is timely, thanks for bringing it to my attention. It comes on the heels of Nativity pastor Rev. Michael White’s visit with Rick Warren. 'nuff said.

I read it and thought there was some good information in it. I also thought they were copying a lot of Protestant methods. Not that I’m opposed, what they are doing is working to get people in the seats, which barring personal 1:1 disciipleship, is the best first step on getting someone connected to God.

FWIW, from the parish’s, which the book is based on, website it’s not very apperant that they’re Catholic, only after clicking around do you find a Mass schedule and other Catholic “identifiers”.

I have not heard of this book. As a rule I am not into a lot of these kind of texts, but it does not mean I won’t give it a review and see what I think about it.

I firmly believe we are going to Church, or attending Mass to worship God, and people can get too wrapped up in superficial “niceties” versus the reality of the truth that should be there. I have to share something carefully so that folks might understand what I mean.

My particular Parish was built in the 1950’s. It had an active school and was by all reports packed at every Mass. In fact, the community was advised that a new Church was needed in the area because of the number of families and people going to Mass. Well, that is what the community was told, but that is not why the new Church was approved and built.

The real reason behind the building of the new Church, which is located a mere 2 miles away was rooted in racial discrimination and social class discrimination. Basically there were people in leadership positions that decided that "They didn’t want the (certain ethnic group) and (certain socioeconomic group) of people in “their Mass.” There are plenty of us still kicking around that remember it well and it still causes a lot of pain for a lot of people.

The building of the new Church closed the school at my Parish within a year or two and sent it into poverty. The folks with money and position left for the newer “more acceptable” Parish. The community was weakened instead of strengthened, broken instead of healed, divided instead of united. And no matter what others may say, I am certain that the Bishop at the time, and the Parish Priest at the time had to know this. If the whole community knew how could they not know?

Does this book address that kind of rubbish going on? Because to me, if we want to “rebuild our Church” we need to start with putting an end to bigotry, classism, racism, sexism, and dirty politics first. The rest will take care of itself when we do.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…

  • Galatians 5:22-23

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

  • John 15:11

Clearly the faithful should be joyous, and naturally so from the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But I think that the point is that struggling to please everyone and pack them into the pews should always have two ulterior motives: to glorify our Lord God and to increase our personal holiness so we get to Heaven. That joy should always stem from a state of sanctifying grace as Michael Voris points out.

What concerns me about Rebuilt is similar to a point raised about the Hunger Games films and their marketing strategies which themselves evoked the rich, decadent and cruel Capitol. They are inherently hypocritical. The Rebuilt book speaks of parishioners who had a consumerist mentality, that they wanted to get their Eucharist and get out as soon as possible. Yet all their materials evoke a slick marketing scheme for products and services, these people talk like I hear them on infomercials every day. The book denigrates “para-Church organizations” such as Knights of Columbus, yet Rebuilt is itself a para-Church organization (they can’t coexist with their competition).

Now I do not know if there is anything wrong with having a touch of consumerist mentality. I found my parish initially agreeable (and more and more so as time wears on) because they offered services in a manner pleasing to me, and their customer service was pretty good. The Church is more than a corporation and a government, but it incorporates aspects of both. The Church’s ultimate product is eternal life, and it must sell that adequately by reaching out to us, especially the lost. And the question is whether Nativity parish is reaching people, drawing them in, and helping them glorify God and grow in personal holiness. Are they attending Mass, frequenting Confession, receiving the Eucharist worthily? Are they observing the laws regarding baptism and marriage? Well, if they are doing all that then it is a success for that community. Can this success be translated into others? Perhaps.

But it is very controversial because the blueprint that they offer represents a tectonic shift in the way a parish is run. I feel there is a minority that will want this but it will be forever small, like communities which worship using the Extraordinary Form. I trust my pastor ultimately with the decisions to implement some of these things, because he is a very prudent man, but I sincerely doubt that we will undergo the Extreme Makeover: Ecclesiastical Edition in the same way that Nativity has shown itself.

Indeed joy and happiness are not an end unto themselves, they are by-products of right living and right worship. But I was responding to the idea that we don’t go to church to be happy. We most certainly do. People come to Jesus when they are broken in order to be made whole.

Now I do not know if there is anything wrong with having a touch of consumerist mentality. I found my parish initially agreeable (and more and more so as time wears on) because they offered services in a manner pleasing to me, and their customer service was pretty good. The Church is more than a corporation and a government, but it incorporates aspects of both. The Church’s ultimate product is eternal life, and it must sell that adequately by reaching out to us, especially the lost. And the question is whether Nativity parish is reaching people, drawing them in, and helping them glorify God and grow in personal holiness. Are they attending Mass, frequenting Confession, receiving the Eucharist worthily? Are they observing the laws regarding baptism and marriage? Well, if they are doing all that then it is a success for that community. Can this success be translated into others? Perhaps.

That is the ultimate question, I recently ordered the book and had checked out this thread to see if there were any good reviews here. Parishes have to do more than simply advertise Mass times. We need to figure out what areas of spirituality people need.

And with this, I believe you hit the nail on the head as to why many in this thread do not like this book. I have not read it yet, but I have many friends who have and know of a few priests who are using it to help revitalize their parishes. One of the things that has been shared with me is that there is often a great deal of resistance to change, especially from people who have a deeply developed spirituality. Oftentimes, they think that everyone else is, or should be, on the same page they are, in my experience, this attitude is an evangelization killer.
We must always remember that the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.

Right, and Nativity seems geared for reaching the lost Catholics who got bored with standard parish life and drifted to Evangelical and non-denom ecclesial communities who did customer service and marketing much better than the Catholics did it. By making a slick package, Nativity is luring people back to the faith by blurring the differences between them and offering a comfortable place to worship. And it’s certainly not a bad thing when your pews and plate are full and overflowing, and you’re embarking on capital campaigns to build more parking and an even larger church edifice.

Archbishop Lori and Cardinal Dolan seem happy with their success as well, so these are all things in their favor. Parishes deserve to succeed. If others can take cues from these books and invigorate their communities then it is well worth the effort.

Never heard of the book, but I have one idea for building solid parishes: Confession. Most parishes offer confession one hour a week in the middle of Saturday and perhaps an Advent and Lent penance service. Nice. The parish where my kids go to school offers confession DAILY before morning mass. There’s always a line. Every day.

Turns out that when you actually preach about sin, redemption and forgiveness people actually WANT that forgiveness and healing thing. We’ve been told enough that we’re “good enough as-is.” Start preaching about the Grace that makes saints, then point folks to the fountains: Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Communion, Marriage, Holy Orders, Annointing of the Sick.

Yeah, it sounds like I’m being terribly simplistic. But when’s the last time YOU heard a homily exhorting the power of Reconciliation? I thought so - can’t remember when. When it’s never talked about and the parish schedule says it’s an unimportant afterthought, people will take that to heart.

Moderator’s Note:

The off topic posts about concrete Parish Revitalization Plans has been moved to the Evangelization Forum: Parish Revitalization Plans Continue that discussion there.

Keep this discussion on topic of the book “Rebuilt”.

Interestingly enough, that church building, the Church of the Nativity, looks very much like one of our local post offices!

I like your points and agree. But you might be surprised on the opposite reaction that can occur? (Maybe you would not be surprised, but I am sure you will understand what I am going to share.)

I have been fortunate enough to belong to a Parish were the Priest always talks about reconciliation, what sin is and how our sin offends God, what is moral and what is not moral. But guess what? People have left because of this.

He is not judgmental, always refers to God as the one with the power to forgive, his love and mercy as well. But when he confronts things like bigotry, immoral sexual activity, violence against children or women, a lot of people will complain and even “tell him off” for being negative. WOW!!

Sometimes it seems the truth is the last thing people want to hear. But I think the way you do, and if the truth was spoken more often, and issues of immorality were openly confronted and discussed we might see a healthier church in the long run. When people leave because the truth is being spoken I see it as a purification of the church.
A few truly faithful can accomplish a ton more than a multitude of mediocre and comfortable with my faith folks can.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.