Welcome to the 6th 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:
- You’ll be able to leave comments and/or leave your link at the end.
- You do not have to read the book to participate. Check out our discussion guide. There’s plenty to get started with if that’s all you use (one page a week).
- Still don’t have the book? Well, Our Sunday visitor has extended their $10 and free shipping offer until July 31. No excuses and plenty of time!
This week, we’ll be covering Chapter 5: Thresholds of Conversion: Can I Trust You?.
What does evangelization look like? How do we lead someone from complete unbelief to fervent discipleship? Sherry Weddell outlines five “thresholds” in the spiritual journey towards mature faith:
- Initial Trust
- Spiritual Curiosity
- Spiritual Openness
- Spiritual Seeking
- Intentional Discipleship
She emphasizes that this is not a mechanical process:
There is no one-size-fits-all way of negotiating the journey to discipleship. People will move through at different paces . . . or ping-pong back and forth between different thresholds . . . .
The thing to remember is that we are not in control of the process. Some people will not respond to our best efforts . . . . Others may dazzle us by choosing to cooperate with grace . . . . We are dealing with the mystery of a relationship that God himself is initiating in the human heart.
In chapter five we explore the first threshold, “Initial Trust”. This is not the same as an active, personal faith. It is a positive association with the Church that makes it possible to move closer to God. It could be a Catholic friend, a good experience with a Catholic school or hospital, or maybe even a positive image of the faith portrayed in a movie or book:
The first task of evangelization is to find out if a bridge of trust already exists.
. . . Many don’t trust God or the Church, by they do trust a Christian in their life. Maybe they trust you. You may be the bridge that will one day lead them to a life-changing encounter with Christ.
In your own faith:
- How was the bridge of trust built for you?
- Who are the people who helped you to come as far as you have in your personal journey?
- Have you ever been that link of trust for another person?
In your parish:
- What are actions you can take at your parish to make your congregation a place of trust?
- Are there barriers in the public imagination – such as a concern about scandals or financial misdeeds – that require increased transparency in order to foster genuine trust?
Join the discussion!
We’ll be “talking” in the combox, too, so please leave your thoughts there as well!