Each parish can be broken down into 6 basic categories of target audiences for evangelization. By targeting different programs and approaches at different audiences, we can increase our effectiveness. This analysis is based on the research from Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples, Matthew Kelly’s The Four signs of a Dynamic Catholic in addition to my own analysis and experience of parish life.
Those who have the desire, training and the practical skills to evangelize. These are the disciple-makers and Spiritual Multipliers in the parish. According to research at the Dynamic Catholic Institute, this represents .6% of the population of a parish. These equipped disciples must be sent on mission to evangelize the remainder of the parish and must engage in mentoring and ongoing accountability.
These are the most involved at the parish — regular Mass attendees and those who do most of the volunteering. These are the Commissioned Disciples in a parish. This represents approximately 7% of the population of a parish. These disciples require training in the practical skills of evangelization and accountability.
These are those who often attend Mass, but are less likely to be involved in leadership or other spiritual activities, and are generally unaware of the call to mission. This group ranges from those who are not yet disciples (but still attend Mass out of a sense of obligation, though perhaps not weekly) to those who are beginning and growing disciples. This represents approximately 20% of a parish (the remainder of the Mass going community). This audience needs to encounter Christ and make a decision to become an intentional disciple, which eventually leads to an understanding of their mission to evangelize.
Those who participate in the social life of the parish, but not the spiritual life of the parish. This is the group in the parish who does not regularly attend Mass (except perhaps Christmas, Easter, and Ash Wednesday), but are engaged in the other aspects of parish life, usually involving social events, school families, CYC families and others. This is the group that is in most danger of leaving the faith, and may even soon categorize themselves as the “religiously unaffiliated”, though they are less likely to do so while still engaged socially.
This is the audience that equipped disciples must help encounter Christ and make a decision to be an intentional disciple.
Those who are registered at the parish but are not engaged in either the social life or spiritual life of the parish. This group has either intentionally left or slowly drifted away form the Catholic faith. They are more likely to identify as “religiously unaffiliated”, but may still identify as Catholic when asked. This group needs to move through the thresholds identified in Forming Intentional Disciples: Trust, Curiosity, Openness, Seeking (leading to a decision point), and Intentional Discipleship. This audience is first reached through pre- evangelization efforts to begin to earn trust.
Within the boundaries (& those on the peripheries)
Non-Catholics who live inside the boundaries of the parish and Catholics who live within the parish boundaries and are not registered at the parish. Many of these are the “religiously unaffiliated” as well as members of others faiths and those on the peripheries of society. Each pastor has a canonical duty for the salvation of souls within his parish boundaries. This audience needs to move through the same thresholds identified above.
Parish Audience Tool
How to Use the Parish Audience Tool
Parish Audience Tool Appendix