Judith Smits wrote on February 2, 2012 to ask about the success of councils
“What is your criterion for saying the parish councils are increasing and that they are successful? I have served in several parishes that did not have a council or had one that did not come close to serving its purpose.”
Mark F. Fischer replied:
First, let’s begin with the number of councils. The most recent figure, to my knowledge, is from Chuck Zech and his associates, Best Practices of Catholic Parish and Finance Councils. This 2010 survey of 661 parishes (out of the 18,000+ parishes in the USA) found that 93 percent have a pastoral council. My own research in 1998 estimated that 75% of U.S. parishes have pastoral councils.
Second, let’s consider whether councils are successful. Zech and his associates identified the features of successful councils. Some view themselves as planning bodies. Others view themselves as bodies that coordinate ministries. Zech and his associates reported that both types of council are effective. Councils that plan are more effective than councils that do not, and councils that coordinate are more effective than those not involved in coordinating (p. 131).