How to use the SPARK inventory of tips and ideas
Benchmarking — a process of seeking out new and innovative ideas and best practices in an organization’s field — has certainly proven its worth in the world of business. This process exposes people to new ideas, insights, and breakthroughs, and helps improve an organization’s performance. After touring a meat processing facility in Chicago, Henry Ford was inspired to build the first assembly line and revolutionize modern manufacturing in the early 1900s. After studying the practices of General Motors, Toyota Motor Company grew from a small Japanese supplier to a major player in the automotive manufacturing industry in the 1980s. Teams that benchmark recognize the value in considering and learning from others’ experience. By studying the winning strategies of others, a team can accelerate its own progress and improvement.[i]
This is true for ministry as well. Many church communities, both Catholic and non-Catholic, have become students of successful, growing churches. The genius of any successful organization, churches included, is adaptability and openness to good ideas wherever they can be found. It is easy, at times, to get stuck doing things the same way year after year, but Unleash the Gospel calls for us to leave behind the status-quo and take on a spirit of innovation in order to bring the Good News of Jesus into every corner of our archdiocese. It’s helpful to use a practice like benchmarking to begin thinking more creatively and take up that innovative spirit.
This was the inspiration behind SPARK. SPARK is a knowledge base of resources, training, and best practices developed to accompany parish leaders in fulfilling the propositions outlined in the Unleash the Gospel.
The imagery that led us to the name ‘SPARK’ is twofold: it embodies the idea of being set ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit, and it recalls the image of dry wood in the pastoral letter: “Dry wood is perfect for being set on fire!” (UTG, 3.2)
Like Ford and Toyota, we at the Archdiocese of Detroit have been inspired by the efforts we see in parishes and apostolates across the United States and Canada, so we’ve compiled some of what we’ve observed to be effective ways to bring people to Christ and to accompany the faithful on the path to discipleship. SPARK brings all these inspirations together into one place and makes them available at your fingertips.
SPARK provides best practices and studies of parishes or apostolates that have been notably fruitful in parish renewal or successful in a particular aspect of ministry. It also includes resources such as study programs and books that can be used to evangelize and form disciples for mission. SPARK may remind you of certain programs and resources you’re already familiar with, but it will certainly teach you something new. The knowledge base will also equip you with tools to visit each parish or apostolate’s website and continue to develop research on a particular program or tool.
We’ve organized information by Synod Proposition/Action Step, by stage in the Encounter/Grow/Witness layout, by audience, by language, and by type of ministry, and the database is powered by a thorough search engine with necessary filters available to pinpoint the ideal search for your team’s needs.
Take some time to explore SPARK today and let the Holy Spirit inspire you to bring the Gospel in new and innovative ways to your parish community.
This tool is managed by the Archdiocese of Detroit Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship and is intended to be a living resource that continues to grow and evolve as new programs are published and new ideas are brought forth. To submit an idea or best practice to be included in this knowledge base, please email [email protected].
[i] Christopher E. Bogan and Michael J. English, Benchmarking For Best Practices: Winning Through Innovative Adaptation (Palatino: Inkwell Publishing Services, 1994), https://www.best-in-class.com/bestp/domrep.nsf/insights/chapter-1-benchmarking-best-practice-book?opendocument (accessed May 5, 2020).