Less is More in Church Offerings

As I’ve written before, busy isn’t the same as vibrant–and it can actually distract from growing disciples in a parish or ministry. Following the principle of alignment and focus in all areas of parish life, I think too many parishes attempt to do too much, and the important things get lost among the choices for “involvement” offered to visitors and regulars.

From the Evangelical Catholic’s outstanding (and free) training resources, here’s a clear articulation of why:

“The two main reason significant number of students do not attend the formational programming a ministry offers [and I think this applies to people in a parish as well]

1. the initiatory catechesis is taught by staff as concepts in classroom style instead of relationally shared by peers who have already related the teachings and ways of Christ to their own lives.  (Faith is more easily caught than taught.)

2. Most importantly, any initiatory catechesis a ministry may offer, no matter what style, is presented as part of a BIG MENU – one of myriad options of clubs, groups and committees available to the new student. 

  • The “big menu” is a disaster, squandering the tremendous curiosity, energy and openness with which students arrive on campus on niche programming, some of which might be very good and necessary parts of following Christ, but are in no way styled to establish students as committed believers who want to follow and learn from Christ as his disciples/students, and to ultimately be able to help others do the same.

Note: “Even liturgical ministries should be less prominent than small groups or peer discipling.”

Nice. I’ve heard of a parish that dropped the endless menu of options to get folks to focus on Alpha small groups. It worked. Any other success stories out there about the counter-intuitive benefits of limiting options?


5 thoughts on “Less is More in Church Offerings

    • Agreed, but also limited to what is quality and focused on discipleship in its many stages. I’ve seen too many parishes where there are lots of things going on, but little intentional discipleship. I think Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran in “Rebuilt” and “Tools for Rebuilding” have it right about limiting peripheral activities in a parish. If people are constantly being bombarded about coming to fundraisers, school trivia night, helping the local Catholic Charities office, book club meeting in the next parish over, and a dozen other things, it seems like it’s easy for people to get lost in a sea of “non-intentional discipleship.” Not that those other things are bad–but they can be distractions from what the most urgent spiritual need is. I also think that almost any pre-existing group could be transformed from within to become disciple-producing.


  1. […] Tool #16 (Stop Advertising [Other People's Stuff] in Your Bulletin) gives some great advice. Parishes should, as the title says, stop filling bulletins with other stuff (even if it’s good stuff!), as this is a distraction from communicating a central message about what you want people to do to grow as disciples. Giving people lots of options does not necessarily “get more people engaged” if not all of those options are of equal quality as disciple-making settings (see “Why Less is More” here). […]


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