Book Impressions-Forming Intentional Disciples
A few days ago I finished reading the book “Forming Intentional Disciples,” by Sherry Weddell. I can’t recommend it enough if you participate in any form of ministry for the Church. I’m still digesting all the information provided in the book, but wanted to offer a few of the things that really caught my attention. One of the things I felt while reading the book was the affirmation of many feelings I’ve had throughout the years I’ve been involved in ministry. I always felt like we could do more than just present the truths of the faith. Even if we presented, for instance, baptismal prep, in fresh and compelling ways, people who were not regularly attending mass were still not “staying” with us afterward. I already had the first inklings of an understanding, more fully developed in the book, that what we needed to do was to preach more about Jesus Christ (the “Good News) and the difference it makes in our lives when we have a relationship with him. What people are seeking, and not finding in our churches, is a relationship with Jesus. And the reason they’re not finding it is that many of us in the pews, even “active” Catholics, don’t have that relationship with Jesus. Another things I realized was that we can’t assume that active Catholics have been evangelized and are disciples. I liked that it had a biblical foundation from the “Great Comission” passage of the Gospel of Matthew: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.'” -Mk 28:18-20 We have been operating backwards: we usually catechize, and then give the sacraments, and then we hope to make people disciples. The book suggests we restore Jesus’ vision to make disciples first, with a proclamation of the Gospel, before we move to catechize them. The book has the New Evangelization very much in mind, and for my part, I take away as my personal aim to make Jesus Christ the center of everything I do in ministry, to become an instrument of facilitating the encounter with God for all the people I touch in my ministry.