I lobbied our parish librarian to acquire this book for our faith community. I plan to recommend everybody on the pastoral council read it. My staff colleagues, too. If any reader out there has any sense of commitment to the Catholic parish, even if you aren’t on a council or a staff, you’ll probably (hopefully) get something out of this read. It’s the best church book on my bookshelf since Jim Martin.
The authors are a pastor and one of the lay ecclesial ministers on his staff. They serve a suburban Baltimore parish that less than a decade ago they desperately wanted not to serve–or even be in. Today they have a book with three pages of testimonials, plus a foreword by the cardinal archbishop of New York.
Rebuilt is a readable and honest story of two guys who began parish ministry as clueless as anybody else. But they were soon able to admit they didn’t know what they were doing, and took steps to get it right. They went to Evangelical Christianity to find out why people, especially “dechurched Catholics,” flock to megachurches. And along the way, they found that they could apply many principles to battle the apathy, the religious consumerism, and the naysayers in Roman Catholicism.
Now they have a book, a website with instructive videos, and their parish strikes me as rather vibrant and engaging. And best of all, making a big difference in many people’s lives. They freely concede they still have problems and obstacles. They both think they can be doing things better. I think they’ll find the way, mainly because they apply one time-honored spiritual principle: they acknowledge their weakness before God. God seems to have a special place for people who are willing to throw themselves totally into service. The answers, seemingly sometimes, drop from heaven.
If I had read this book twenty to twenty-five years ago when I was buried in suburban Catholicism, I would have wanted to sell everything I had to walk or even crawl to Timonium, Maryland to be a parishioner at Nativity Church. Today, I feel privileged to work for a parish that has applied some of these good ideas, and found some solutions for which these authors are still seeking. Best of all, I feel excited about waking up tomorrow morning and going back for another day of ministry and service.
The only problem with this book is that an Ave Maria Press editor was asleep at the wheel on it. There are some spelling errors and formatting goofs. Good thing the authors get an A-plus–it makes you forget the sloppy work on this fine book.
Read it. Your parish’s future might depend on it.