By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published February 9, 2017
ATLANTA—Amazing Parish, a Denver-based program supporting pastors and parish leadership teams, will host a March 13-15 conference in Atlanta.
The conference, to be held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis on Peachtree Center Avenue, will offer training for parish leaders through spiritual renewal and sessions on how leaders can work side by side to best serve parishioners.
Presenters will be authors Jeff Cavins, Matthew Kelly, Curtis Martin, Chris Stefanick and musician Matt Maher. Also participating will be Sister Regina Marie Gorman, a Carmelite Sister of the Most Sacred Heart in Los Angeles, and Father Michael White, pastor of Church of the Nativity in Baltimore, Maryland.
New York Times best-selling author Patrick Lencioni, who co-founded Amazing Parish with John Martin in 2013, will lead the training.
Bill Weingartner, director of Amazing Parish, said the workshop-style retreat helps parish leaders establish trust and accountability so they can focus on Christ’s great commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
“We’re not a program per se,” said Weingartner, who has been involved in Amazing Parish from day two. “We are really a method that parishes can use to help improve organizational health.”
In his professional life, Lencioni leads a management consulting firm specializing in executive team development. He has worked with a variety of corporations from restaurants to airlines.
“He was super successful in the secular world,” said Weingartner. “God was telling him you’ve got to do more.”
Together with Martin, Lencioni set a course to help parishes turn from maintenance mode to being missionary communities.
“Many priests didn’t have any training on organizational health in seminary,” said Weingartner. “They get bogged down.”
Pastors or parishioners don’t typically consider churches to be organizations.
“They’re the most important organization that exists in America,” said Weingartner.
Parishes, like business organizations, have employees, budgets and customers called parishioners, he emphasized.
“You’re a much more important organization. You’re dealing with souls,” said Weingartner.
The first Amazing Parish conference was in Denver in 2014. The response was positive, and leaders found parish representatives were eager to learn.
Since the inaugural conference, other workshops have been held nationwide. Amazing Parish serves as a sounding board after conferences to parishes and offers free resources, coaching and consulting, and educational webinars.
By the end of the conference, teams attending will have a vision for their parish and have developed a strategy to implement it, whether it’s dealing with staff or financial issues.
“They can do these tough things; they can lead,” said Weingartner.
There’s no set agenda for the conferences as all dioceses and parishes are different.
“It’s not prescriptive,” said Weingartner.
Daily Mass, confession and adoration are part of the Amazing Parish conference.
“We know nothing gets done without God,” he said.
Maher, a Grammy-nominated musician, performs songs and shares stories in a “sing-along”-type event. Those attending will enjoy time with Sister Regina Marie, whom the director describes as a “nuclear power plant of prayer.”
Nearly 200 parishes have registered for Amazing Parish in Atlanta. In addition to the archdiocese, teams are coming from neighboring dioceses, from Toledo, Ohio, Seattle, Washington, and Los Angeles.
Pastors registering for the event are encouraged to bring four other parish leaders.
Volunteers are also needed to help with the conference.
Although each parish or mission participating is unique, Amazing Parish has found that the common building blocks for all include a reliance on prayer and the sacraments, a commitment to a healthy organization, and a passion for evangelization and discipleship.
Ultimately, the Amazing Parish model serves to help parishes become the center of evangelization and discipleship for the Catholic Church.
“It’s so that we can go out and be Christ’s hands and eyes in a world that needs him,” said Weingartner.
For conference details and registration, visit www.amazingparish.org or call 303-481-4320.