National Pastoral Planners Network

The NPPN Executive serves the National Pastoral Planners Network whose purpose is to promote and strengthen a culture of planning for mission and evangelisation within the Catholic Church in Oceania. We engage pastoral research and best practices in church growth to offer experience, knowledge, resources and processes that enable dioceses and parishes to advance the mission of Jesus Christ under the guidance of the Spirit.

Why Planning Matters

Copyright, Diocese of Parramatta 2012

Copyright, Diocese of Parramatta 2012

Pastoral planning is nothing new to our Church. From the very beginning of our history as a community of disciples planning has been a common part of our life.

In the Acts of the Apostles, for example, we see the community of faith organising itself – identifying, preparing for and responding to the pastoral needs of their fellow believers and those beyond the nascent community. This includes providing for the care of Greek widows (Acts 6:1-6) and addressing the need to catechise the great numbers in Antioch (Acts 11:19-26).

Hence, from the outset, the Church and its leaders discovered particular pastoral needs, discerned ways to address them, and then selected one of the possible options. These activities constitute the essence of ‘pastoral planning.’ Planning is a response of faith to the people, resources and possibilities that God is offering to us for the sake of his mission.

Many Australian and New Zealand dioceses, as well as local parishes, are engaged in pastoral planning to foster a common vision for their life, to listen to the needs and aspirations of their people, to discern future directions and move toward concrete actions. The NPPN exists to support the Church in these efforts.

Below are some other reasons why your community, movement or diocese should start planning today:

  • The need to develop, articulate and promote a clearly owned vision within and beyond your group (i.e. ‘what are we about?’). Without such a vision, resources can be misdirected and significant energy can be lost; people have no way of engaging with a future approach. What is your community’s vision for making disciples?
  • The need to identify spiritual and social needs as well as gifts within the group so that the mission of Christ and the Church can be fulfilled. Intentional planning provides an opportunity to get to know the members of the group or community more intimately and engage their abilities toward the common good;
  • The opportunity to consult community members and listen intently to their faith, viewpoints and experience of the past and present with a view to the future. No one has a comprehensive view or can experience all of the Church’s life; as a communion of faith we depend on each other for the best view of things. St Paulinus of Nola reminds us, ‘Let us listen to what all the faithful say, because in every one of them the Spirit of God breathes’;
  • The need to match our structures with our mission, particularly in light of limited resources and increasing need. All structures and persons are at the service of, and therefore accountable to, the mission given to us by the Gospel in our particular context. We need to match the faith that we live with the mission we seek to fulfil;
  • To enable your faith community or group to respond effectively and proactively to change and to not be passively shaped by external forces. Intentional planning actually enables adaptability, flexibility and resourcefulness in the midst of changing circumstance.

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