Welcome to the final chapter 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).
- Note: though this is the last chapter of the book, we WILL be hosting a link-up next week to cover our concluding thoughts.
This week, we’ll be covering Chapter 12: Expect Conversion.
Sherry Weddell opens the final chapter of Forming Intentional Disciples with an unsettling story:
. . . a priest friend was talking to me about a woman he knew who had just gone through a conversion and was changing in dramatic ways. . . . This new disciple was badly catechized, but the most astonishing spiritual wisdom was coming out of her mouth, and my priest friend couldn’t get over it. What, he asked me, could be going on?
I sat for a moment in genuine bewilderment at his surprise. “Well . . . it’s the Holy Spirit,” I said slowly. Surely, didn’t this wonderful, intelligent, prayerful man understand what was happening? . . . It turned out the answer was no. Even though he had been a priest for twelve years, my friend had never witnessed anyone go through a major conversion before.
As Catholics, we must expect to witness God at work. We should expect to see God acting in our community, and prepare to receive new disciples as the fruit of our evangelization efforts. Discipleship should be the norm, not the pious exception, to parish life:
. . . what few people seem to understand is how debilitating spiritual isolation can be even for highly committed Catholics who are disciples.
. . . I have yet to meet a pastor passionate about evangelization who hasn’t told me privately that he feels almost completely alone in his concerns among his brother priests.
At the parish level, evangelization and discipleship include several significant strategic priorities:
Prayer: Mobilize existing prayer groups, and encourage and support new initiatives. Build inter-connectedness among prayer groups. The Mass and other communal prayer services should be oriented towards evangelization and discipleship.
Intentional Evangelization: Seek out individuals longing to hear the Good News. Create processes to prevent parishioners from getting lost in the crowd. Train parishioners in the skills needed for evangelization. Find ways to explicitly share the Gospel both within existing ministries, and as part of new initiatives.
Forming and Equipping Disciples: Train spiritual companions to mentor new disciples. Create small-group environments within the larger parish, as places for discipleship and on-going formation. Help disciples discern and learn to use their spiritual gifts, and thus to answer their calling from God.
In your own faith:
- Have you ever felt isolated in your quest to follow Jesus?
- What are ways you have built a community of spiritual companions?
In your parish:
- You’ve put a lot of energy over the course of this study into learning about the need for evangelization and discipleship, and how to fulfill that need. Do you plan to take action? In what way?
Join the discussion!
We’ll be “talking” in the combox, too, so please leave your thoughts there as well!