‘Joyfully Building up the Church’

  “What should be done then my friends? Let all things be done for building up.” 

  (1 Corinthians 14:26)

In 2010, the Parish Pastoral Council in conjunction with the parish staff developed our St. Philip Neri mission statement. This statement is based on verse 26 from 1 Corithinans 14.  Below we would like to offer our explanation of the meaning behind this passage and the vision it holds for our parish.

What do we mean by ‘the Church’?
  • Primarily we are speaking about our local parish of St. Philip Neri, where we as individuals have the greatest measure of influence.
  • St. Philip Neri is not a separate entity or an island unto itself; we are connected to something much greater than our selves, therefore we are also speaking about the Church as being: Diocesan and Universal.
  • Even though we are a Catholic church, we are indeed connected with all baptized Christians (Eph. 4:3-6) who may or may not be in full communion with the Catholic church, therefore this statement is Ecumenical in nature.
  • “The church” is made up of many people. Some are poor, some rich, some are young, some are older, some are sickly, some are well, some are married, some are divorced, some are joyful, some are grieving, some have two parents, some have one… the list can go on and on. This statement is Inclusive.
  • What about those who are not baptized? Does this mission statement include them? Yes it does! In responding to the great Commission given to us by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father…” Mt. 28:19 we reach out to those who know not Christ, in hope that one day they will respond to his call to be part of His Church. Therefore this statement is also Evangelistic in nature.

What do we mean by ‘building up’?

This is the ‘nuts and bolts’ of our mission statement. This is where the rubber meets the road.

This question can be answered individually, collectively as a committee or as a parish as a whole. The answers will be as varied as the people who walk our halls. Our parish nurses build up our community differently than our youth minister. Yet each is called to build up the church. Here are but a few general suggestions:

  • It means Encouragement. Looking for ways to affirm others in their efforts to serve the Lord rather than looking for holes in their intentions and methods.
  • In the same vein, it means encouraging others to look at alternative methods if appears their method is not working as well as it could be.
  • It means Equipping those in ministry with the necessary tools and resources to do the work at hand.
  • It also means to Empower others to do the work themselves. We have all heard the saying, “It is better to teach someone to fish than to give them a fish.”

Why did we choose the adverb, ‘joyfully’ and not some other adverb like, ‘faithfully’?
  • A mission statement for our parish must in some way reflect the qualities of our patron saint, Philip Neri. One of his most salient qualities is that of ‘Holy Joyfulness.’
  • As Christians, we are an Easter people, our hope and our joy is in knowing the Risen Christ! There is so much more to our lives than the day to day. We look forward joyfully to the resurrection and to eternal life!
  • There are two ways to do things, two ways to serve others: grudgingly or joyfully. In other words, ‘I may in fact be faithful and do what is right and proper and yet not be joyful in the venture’. ‘Let them do this with joy and not with sighing – for that would be harmful to you.” Heb. 13:17

What is the context of Paul’s statement to the Corinthians in chapter 14.
  • Like all churches, including our own, the Corinthian church was well gifted. The particular focus of chapter 14 is the use of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, such as speaking in tongues. Regardless of the gifts being discussed, the question remains, ‘in what way are these gifts being used?’ Paul is challenging the Corinthians to use each and every gift they have received from the Lord to ‘build up’ the Church.
  • Gifts and talents should not draw attention to the one who has them, but to the One who has given them. The purpose of a gift from the Lord is the edification or building up of the community, not the individual.