Welcome to the 12th 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).
This week, we’ll be covering Chapter 11: Personally Encountering Jesus in His Church.
After breaking the silence about Jesus, the second step in evangelization is to create multiple, overlapping opportunities for people to personally encounter Jesus in the midst of his Church. Any ministry of the parish, as well as informal encounters with other parishioners, can be a point of encounter:
We need a wide spectrum of opportunities, because there is no single silver bullet. We need to have a variety of different paths or doors to discipleship available and visible so that most people will find at least one way to connect with or draw closer to Christ. Instead of thinking of these ministries as separate, siloed endeavors run by different parish interest groups, we need to see all of our ministries in light of our primary call to make disciples.
An evangelizing parish is not the work of a single leader or small group of spiritual elites. All the baptized receive charisms, or spiritual gifts, that aid in the work of evangelization. As newcomers encounter the Church, they can find a niche under the wing of a disciple whose charism is ideal for fostering their next stage in spiritual growth:
People on the frontier of trust can be greatly encouraged by those with a gift of hospitality. . . . Those at the threshold of seeking may find those with the gifts of teaching particularly helpful.
The St. Catherine of Siena Institute has a primary mission of helping parishioners uncover and begin to use their charisms. The discernment process may yield unsettling results:
After working with tens of thousands of Catholics in the discernment process, we have noticed something important: Not all charisms are welcomed and valued at the parish level. This is almost never intentional or bad-willed, but it hampers the work of the Kingdom all the same.
. . . Which charisms are we not likely to welcome? The charisms primarily aimed at starting new initiatives, evangelizing and proclaiming Christ, forming disciples and apostles, and freedom for unusual ministry and prophetic change.
An essential ministry is the formation of small faith groups by those with the gift of “pastoring”. The last thing new disciples need is to feel isolated and alone within their parish.
In your own faith:
- How would you describe what your spiritual gifts are (or might be)?
- In what ways could you evangelize or disciple others using those gifts?
- Think for a moment about the other members of your parish. Who do you know who seems to have a very evident gift for some type of ministry, but perhaps is not aware of it?
For pastoral leaders:
- Think for a moment about the lay leaders of your parish. Which would you describe as “disciples”? As not yet disciples? [Or: Don’t really know.]
- Over the next six months, what steps can you take to help the disciples learn to evangelize? To help disciples-to-be grow in their faith?
Join the discussion!
We’ll be “talking” in the combox, too, so please leave your thoughts there as well!