Reviewing my admittedly limited options to see if there was even such a thing as the Catholic’s of Pleasanton’s Strategic plan, I ended up emailing the entire parish council asking anyone for a copy. It’s only been a day and I haven’t heard anything yet, but I must attest to some unease. First, responsiveness: even the Chancery down in Oakland has quickly and efficiently answered my questions. Secondly, either this strategic plan is a public document or it is not. If the document is not then it should not be held up during town hall meetings (as my friends tell me it was) and offered to the community to read at their leisure. I will wait and see if anyone from the Parish Council responds. In the meantime, dear readers if you happen to have a copy, send it over! I promise to keep everything private!
Which brings me to offer a little side teaching from said parish’s previous Sunday Bulletin (sorry to focus on you all down there—keep me distracted: send financials!). There is a disturbing trend amongst churches these days to be like a business—that is, to emulate business practices. Now I am all for sound business practice, I made a career out of auditing and preparing taxes for small businesses in my home town. I know first hand that adhering to well-understood business methods can drastically improve the prospects of a failing enterprise. I am especially fond of sound business practices being used to prepare financial statements for churches, but this falls mostly to sound accounting principles. GAAP is GAAP as they say, whether you are a church or a Frozen Yogurt shop. I am not however, a fan of “church-as-business” practices that can distract the laity from the church’s most important mission: salvation.
Case in point: developing a logo for your local church, as Pleasanton seems to be doing. Now perhaps the good leaders of Pleasanton have conflated Christology and the Divinity of Jesus as a literal call to take Logos and make “logo”; but, the teaching in John 1:1 was not asking for help to “anchor Parish identity” (whatever that may actually mean), nor was it an admonition to Christians to develop “enduring marks for their communities”.
Christians are unique in that we already have a “logo” universally and freely shared, available for use without fear of copyright or trademark infringement; it was originally made of wood and smeared with the blood of an innocent man. It is to the crucifix that all Parishes should “anchor their identity”. The cross is THE only necessary enduring mark of Christian community. Catholics need not (indeed, should not) be distracted by any other symbols. To suggest any single parish needs it’s own “logo” is to fall prey to a practice that works well in a business setting; in a church setting however, a “parish logo” ultimately only takes the Christian’s eyes off the cross. We must, as we have been told, “throw off everything that hinders us” and “fix our attention on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12).
Graphic designers are not the answer, my brothers and sisters in Pleasanton. The word made flesh (LOGOS) is.
Heed this call.