Let There Be Light
Parish Leadership for the 21ST Century
Father James Grant
A Modotti Press Title
Pages: 120 pages
Release Date: April 2016
What they are saying about "Let there be Light"
This book confronts the need for change in the Catholic Church.
I have known the author of this book Father James Grant for over 10 years and consider him a courageous and strong religious leader. Father James is a visionary and personal friend. He is an authentic Church leader who believes in taking the Catholic Church to the people and not the other way around.
Father James first came to my attention when I was the Director of Human Resources at AIG which is a multi-national insurance organisation. He was introduced to me by then AIG Chief Executive Officer Mr. Chris Townsend who described him as: “an entrepreneurial and interesting priest”. He was right on both counts!
Father James founded the organisation “Chaplains without Borders” in 2004 to provide chaplaincy services to corporate Australia. Father James was appointed as the world’s first chaplain to the casino industry in 2006 (Crown Casino).
Father James provides an insightful view of the need for change to current parish practices and strategy in this book. He talks about the need for ministers to move outside what he describes as their “comfort zone”. Father James argues that if a parish fails to adapt or reform it is at serious risk of decline.
He uses his knowledge and experience gained over many years in business and provides parish ministers with a framework for leading effective change in their parishes. He explores a range of concepts and strategies which will assist a parish to implement the necessary change to survive and thrive into the future.
Father James believes that the Church is just like any other organisation. It must stay focused on and relevant to the needs of its community or stakeholders to thrive and grow. It must therefore adapt to new ways of doing things and engaging with its community and/or stakeholders.
This book is compelling reading for parish leaders involved in managing stakeholders and setting the strategic direction of the parish. He encourages Church leaders to fully understand the demographics of the community or stakeholders it serves, to be open minded to new ideas without compromising on Church values or belief’s and to use the sphere of influence to drive real outcomes whilst being tolerant of the diversity of views held by the community and stakeholders.
Father James wants the Catholic Church to make a difference in the lives of people through renewal.
Carlo Galati --Former National General Manager AIG Human Resources
I have worked with Father James for many years through the ‘Chaplain’s without Borders’ pastoral care program he has provided to our workplace. I admire the work undertaken by Father James and the contemporary way he seeks to add value to the lives of many and in parallel, works to make the church relevant in this 21st century. Father James understands that the concept of a congregation has moved beyond attendance at a Sunday Service. Father James cultivates a sense of congregation, a collective coming together of likeminded people, whilst breaking down traditional perceptions of what a parish must be.
Louise Tebbutt -- Executive General Manager Human Resources, Risk and Safety Myer
This book challenges every church to find ways to adapt and change in the 21st century. The work is large in scope and many of the ideas will be confronting for those who see their church as a comfortable and stable old friend. Yet it would be wrong to say that Father James proposes all past practices should be discarded or that the teachings of the Catholic Church should deviate from conservative belief. Rather the work recognises the importance of the church’s history, tradition and place in the community but seeks to make these foundations relevant for the modern worshipper. Father James suggests a clear way forward for church leaders and parishioners – ask what can I do to keep my church meaningful in today’s world? The book gives hope that the Catholic Church will remain a place of faith and succour for the remainder of this century.
Peter Clarke -- Melbourne Lawyer
Fr James Grant manages to re-energise Catholic priests in our day and age when we feel more like closing down the shop. With his optimistic outlook and pastoral experience, he gives us many clues about how to tackle the challenges of our 21st century. He doesn’t shy away from the obstacles of a modern day parish and shows us the way forward: innovate or die.
Knowing him, I had the pleasure to read his book and find the topics we discuss from time to time: these things are in his mind and tries to give some answers. He doesn’t have time for blaming the past or looking to the dark clouds of the future. He lives in the present time, tries to be objective and offer us priests, many different ideas to put into practice straight away. Polemics or debates don’t bog him down; he manages to be practical and go down to basics. We should be grateful for his effort.
Fr Joseph Pich -- Opus Dei Community Melbourne
Adherence to the past, whether an ideally-imagine past or an actual one, can in this highly competitive landscape, almost guarantee a steady slide into obscurity and irrelevance.
Let There Be Light is a read that pulls no punches; it kicks open the doors and loudly heralds a call for change. We need but to stand back a moment, open our eyes, and it becomes very clear that change is exactly what is needed.
For thousands of years, the social fabric of the world changed very little; but that is no longer the world we inhabit. Adaptation is now the key to survival and growth, for any organization; the church being no exception.
This book suggests a severance of old ties to outdated parish cliques and past glories; and proposes a powerfully outlined transition toward a modern model of the role that the church might play into today’s society.
Even though this book may challenge some old and entrenched ideas, its real purpose is to illuminate, inspire and encourage others to step up and embrace an ethos of leadership that will pave the way for a better world tomorrow.
John Will -- Australia’s Leading Martial Arts Instructor
Drawing on his extensive overseas and Australian experience of parish life, Fr James Grant shows that, despite rising secularism and religious apathy in the West, there is no need for priests and parishioners to accept an inevitable decline in parish life and activity.
His key insight is that churches have to move with the time while staying true to their core beliefs. This does not mean reading the zeitgeist of passing fashions or pursuing political causes from the pulpit. Many traditional faith brands such as Methodism and Presbyterianism have virtually disappeared, while erstwhile pillars of yesteryear, such as the Anglican Church, are rapidly withering on the vine. By trying to blend political causes with religious beliefs they have only succeeded in confusing their lifetime supporters, while failing to persuade activists to come on board. Activists may be passionate about their pet causes, but they don't need to do so within a church framework.
The Catholic Church has over a billion adherents worldwide and is still expanding in many countries - not because it bends with the political wind but because it stays true to its long held beliefs. Even those who don't strictly follow its teachings on such subjects as contraception and divorce can still admire its consistency of purpose and high principles. After all, its basic message of primacy for the poor and disadvantaged is a timeless and peerless one, which first captured hearts and minds nearly two thousand years ago.
The bulwark of modern society has always been the family and family values, but what has previously been taken for granted is now under vigorous assault. Marriage is becoming an optional extra for many, while its definition is undergoing profound re-thinking. But a multitude of studies have shown that those who have settled family lives are much more likely to achieve both material and spiritual prosperity, as well as a greater degree of happiness and life satisfaction.
Father Grant gives many practical examples of what a forward thinking but traditional values based programme can achieve. Those who already attend church are almost, by definition, amenable to an offer of further spiritual uplift and would be willing to contribute to community and parish life in various ways, if they can see an active agenda. Those who have turned away or are still looking for something to fill the spiritual hunger gap would be attracted by a parish priest and council which is keen to engage them on issues of mutual concern, whether pastoral or charitable. Care and compassion and concern for the poor should be core business for churches. So a programme which marries the traditional values and teaching of the gospel with the busy lives of ordinary people should have widespread appeal. Fr Grant shows that this can, indeed must, be done if the Catholic Church is to remain vibrant and relevant to the lives of ordinary Australians.
Richard Alston -- former barrister who from 1986 to 2014 was a Liberal Member of the Australian Senate. From 1996 – 2003 he was Minister for Communications and the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate. From 2005-2008 he was Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in London.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fr James Grant has over thirty years of experience in the field of pastoral care, and is widely regarded as one of Australia’s most innovative priests. With overseas experience in the UK and Europe, and having worked in schools, he runs numerous programs. Fr James has also founded Chaplains Without Borders, Australia’s first inter-faith corporate chaplaincy service. Additionally, he has set up the strategic networking forum Catholics in Business and has founded two schools on the Indian sub-continent. He previous book Resurgence. Revitalising Western Catholicism - An Australian Response was published in 2014.