Welcome to the 4th session of Lawn Chair Catechism, using Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus, by Sherry Weddell (Our Sunday Visitor, 2012).
A few notes:
This week, we’ll be covering Chapter 3: The Fruit of Discipleship.
Sherry Weddell opens chapter three by looking inside a parish where intentional discipleship is the norm. Vocations flourish (over 1/3 of the diocese’s religious vocations coming from just two small parishes), financial support is abundant, and parishioners are actively involved in ministry within and beyond the walls of the parish. The presence of the Holy Spirit is palpable at Mass – the fruit of a laity wholeheartedly devoted to prayer.
This, she emphasizes, should not be considered an aberration. As a priest once shared with her, opening her eyes to a deeper understanding of lay and religious vocations, a steady flow of new disciples – Christians actively growing in their faith – is the expected fruit of priestly ministry:
No matter how many institutions we sustain or how much activity goes on in our parish or diocese, if new intentional disciples are not regularly emerging in our midst, our ministry is not bearing its most essential fruit.
Why would a ministry fail to bear fruit? Orthodox priest Fr. Gregory Jensen writes:
I would argue that what typically happens is that we ask people who haven’t yet repented (and so who are not yet disciples of Christ) to take on work meant for apostles.
. . . We do this because we ourselves in the main are not disciples of Jesus Christ. Having neglected repentance in my life, I am indifferent to it in yours.
. . .We cannot ask even good and talented people who are not yet disciples to undertake the works appropriate only to apostles. And yet we do this all the time.
The standard operating procedure is backward. The question is not, “Who can I persuade to fill this vacancy?” The question is, “Who has God put in my parish, and what does He want them to do?” The supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit enable the believer to carry out his or her vocation.
In your own faith:
- Can you recall a “before” and “after” time in your life, when you became a true disciple of Jesus Christ?
- Have you ever witnessed that change in someone else?
In your parish:
- What success stories can you share?
- In what ministries of your parish is “discipleship thinking” the norm?
- In what areas is Christian discipleship not yet the standard for ministry?
Join the discussion!
We’ll be “talking” in the combox, too, so please leave your thoughts there as well!