Connecting Pulpit and Pew – The CONNECT Process

This is what is needed: a Church for young people, which will know how to speak to their heart and enkindle, comfort, and inspire enthusiasm in it with the joy of the Gospel and the strength of the Eucharist; a Church which will know how to invite and to welcome the person who seeks a purpose for which to commit his whole existence; a Church which is not afraid to require much, after having given much; which does not fear asking from young people the effort of a noble and authentic adventure, such as that of the following of the Gospel.                                  —John Paul II, World Day of Prayer for Vocations, 1995.

The Goal - Evangelization through preaching improvement as a parish renewal process

To foster a preaching improvement process that renews an entire parish through:

  1. One-on-one assessment and goal-setting with each preacher in the parish
  2. The creation of a culture of listening between pulpit and pew through a reverse mentoring process.
  3. The strengthening of the assembly’s listening skills so they become conversant, both in theological talk and how to give effective feedback.
  4. To grow disciples: to preach so that the people in the parish are transformed into preachers themselves to evangelize the broader world.

The Process

A. Determine the Baseline

  1. Personal Coaching: for each preacher in the parish (or congregation), a series of homilies are evaluated by the homiletics consultant as a baseline to personalize a homiletic training program
  2. Self-Assessment of Preaching: each preacher will review video-taped homilies and self-assess; then together with the preaching coach, he or she will determine specific and measurable goals to work on
  3. Parish Evaluation of Preaching: the parish will fill out an assessment for each preacher to determine strengths and weaknesses in meeting their own spiritual needs
  4. Growth in Faith: the parish will evaluate yearly to determine how preaching has helped them to grow in faith

B. Design for Growth and then Reassess

  1. Work with individual preachers on homily improvement according to the goals set.
  2. Create preaching mentoring groups within the parish and rotate those regularly.
  3. On a monthly basis, implement three types of feedback: a) A pew card which asks “What was the main point of this homily?” to be dropped immediately in the collection basket; b) The mentoring group sends an email to the preacher within one week which responds, not to how much I liked the homily, but to what did I do differently in my life as a result of it: “How has this homily impacted the way that I have lived my life this week?” or “What did I do differently as a result of the homily?” and c) The mentoring group meets with the preacher to give feedback and to give input on the needs of the parish for the following month’s preachings.
  4. On a yearly basis, reassess both the parish and the preaching for signs of growth in discipleship. Then reset goals as a parish and as a preacher.

Why Center Preaching Growth at the Parish Level?

The needs of each parish or congregation are different. Preaching improvement is not a “one-size-fits-all” process. From Denis Robinson, OSB, “With One Voice: A Program for Parishes,” Seminary Journal 16(2), 2010, 21:

“As a preacher I engage this community, this group, however broad the parameters of the group may be… Preaching engages this people… The preacher speaks to those he knows and loves, those with whom he has cast his lot. The preacher knows their sorrows and their joys, their disappointments and their triumphs.”

What are other possibilities for this process?

The CONNECT process is currently being piloted in Catholic parishes. It could also be effective for a Protestant congregation. If you are interested in getting involved in this experimental phase, please contact us.