Review of “Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter”

Rebuilt fills a huge gap in Catholic ministry books. Finally someone (well two people—Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran) have given a demonstration of what a strategic leadership plan can look like in a parish setting. I highly recommend the book and encourage anyone working or volunteering in a parish to read it.

Now, this doesn’t mean I agree with every judgement and statement in the book. The most valuable aspect of Rebuilt is not that it provides easy “answers” or “to do” lists to become a vibrant parish, but that it shows how ministry leaders can think critically and work together with focus. It is change theory in action.

I’ve interacted with some who are turned off by the style of Rebuilt. Though it might seem a bit prescriptive, the authors (as stated at the 2013 Matter Conference) are very open about the caveats that go along with their work. Two of their key caveats are:

  1. We know what works in Timonium. We’re amateurs in your setting.
  2. What we know keeps changing.

Keep that in mind as you read Rebuilt. Your might be turned off by some of the choices made in this particular parish (Church of the Nativity) or know that something totally different would work for your setting–and that’s okay. Rebuilt is a book about vision and how it can play out in the life of the parish. Your vision should be different and should be tied to your particular setting. The question is are you critically thinking, analyzing, and examining everything from the perspective of the lost? 

This book also has a fantastic set of web resources that can be used by anyone (regardless of reading the book or not). It even includes podcasts that summarize the book (so, no excuse…download these and listen to them in your car, on the treadmill, etc.)

What I value most about this book is that it presents a quality, concrete case study of leadership and management in Catholic ministry. We need more of these—so that our leadership and managerial practices can truly support (and not inhibit) our powerful theology and Gospel message. Change is a hard process. Yet to preach the Gospel message, we must continually adapt and assess. This book can help inspire positive change and provide a much needed jolt to parishes that are stuck in maintenance-mode.  

Read this book to spur your vision of what parishes can be in the New Evangelization. If you’re already got your vision, and need to change your leadership, management, and/or administrative practices to better support your mission, then check-out this follow-up title from the same authors: Tools for Rebuilding: 75 Really, Really Practical Ways to Make Your Parish Better.

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