Forming Intentional Disciples Chapter Summary Points - Chapter 9

We cannot begin to find solutions unless we realize there is a problem.  Once that happens, we need to name the problem. It is important that we face our current realities. It has been estimated that only 5 percent of parishioners at any given time are international disciples.  Prayerfully, we can set goals and a plan of action to help form intentional disciples. 

Sherry offers us much encouragement:

While we cannot make anyone “drop their nets” any more that a gardener can make  seed germinate, we can intentionally work to create an environment that is conducive to the growth of personal faith and discipleship.” (page 185)

What percentage of SJB parishioners do you think are “intentional disciples” as Sherry defines them in her book? Do you think that doubling that number in five years is a realistic undertaking? What specific steps would you suggest to make the attainment of such growth possible? Would that growth be from people “already with us” or from “new” members of the community?  What are your thoughts about how to “break the silence” that Sherry describes? What opportunities do you think that SJB should be offering for both baptized and non-baptized in order to encounter Jesus? 

Comments

  • Bob MurrayPosted on 6/24/20

    Weddell Chapter 9 does begin to get very specific. Ironically, I find I am a bit rambling and general in my thoughts here, but as I attempt to get specific, I run into a wall of not knowing what sort of preparations we ought to make. I learned in trying to answer these questions that I feel like there is some preparation needed, and maybe that's the place to start.

    What percentage of SJB parishioners do you think are “intentional disciples” as Sherry defines them in her book?

    It would be fascinating to measure this, and even more helpful to know where people are in their personal journies through the five thresholds. Our percentage is probably similar to what Weddell describes in other places. Based on nothing...perhaps five to ten percent. But one initial question I go to is, who are we counting? Do we mean all souls in our geography, all enrolled as parishioners, all adult parishioners, all those who attend Mass regularly, all those who provide financial support, all those in active ministries?

    Do you think that doubling that number in five years is a realistic undertaking?

    With prayer, leadership and committment, yes. I take it as foundational that our parishioners want to have a relationship with Jesus. Many are even desperate for deeper connection with Him, and some perhaps can't quite express or recognize it. If we all experience this sense of longing for something more, and if Weddell is right about many Catholics who leave for other congregations because this hunger goes unanswered for too long, then many of our peers just need someone to be open to them, to lead and encourage them through these threshold opportunities to say yes to an invitation into deeper relationship with Jesus. We know not all will pursue the relationship. For some, the cost may be too high. But I would rather see us try helping folks work toward intentional disciplship then watch those members of our parish who deeply want more connection with the Lord leave the parish because they cannot find anyone to help them move forward.

    What specific steps would you suggest to make the attainment of such growth possible?

    Developing our leadership team in this direction. Establishing parish-wide, formal prayer for the Holy Spirit to lead us. Making this effort the single, central focus of all parish life. Aligning our strategic plan with what we are learning, or tossing it out. Engaging every ministry leader in the plan. Learning to talk differently about our purpose as Catholics is not something we can do in a training session, so I believe we would need to establish a set of principles against which we can measure any progress. The outcomes we look for as signs of growth should be varied and reflect our intentions and diversity. We may find that different signs begin to appear than the ones we expect, so we should remain open to that. That said, if we plant carrots, we should probably not expect corn! :-)

    Would that growth be from people “already with us” or from “new” members of the community?

    Initially, growth in intentional discipleship will come from within the parish. In time, as the changes caused by our re-imagined approach to sacraments, worship, and ministries start to become visible, we will see new disciples being prompted from the outside...either new or returning.

    What are your thoughts about how to “break the silence” that Sherry describes?

    Training, trial, and trust.


    What opportunities do you think that SJB should be offering for both baptized and non-baptized in order to encounter Jesus?

    Great question. For those who are baptized, a combination of awareness, trust-building, challenge, and encouragement in all areas of parish life. For non-baptized, perhaps focusing on awareness and trust-building is how we might want to begin to move forward. I imagine a discussion series entitle Do We Catholics Push Jesus Away?. Or a series of conversations aligned with homilies and publications (newsletters) that remind us that the path to relationship with Jesus is not elusive. How about RCIA for us adult Catholics looking for meaning or a better understanding of what it means to be Catholic. Outreach ministries designed for fallen away members...not preachy, but one-on-one...asking why they fell away, and just listening. So many opportunities, but we need the practical training to have conversations, how to recognized when to speak and when to listen, how to re-gear existing ministries, where to initiate new methods, and so much more.