“Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions which lead to this encounter between the person and Jesus Christ. The goal of all evangelization is to create the possibility for this encounter, which is, at one and the same time, intimate, personal, public and communal.”
-2012 Instrumentum Laboris 20
Whenever a person has a life-changing encounter with Jesus, we know that it is Jesus himself who has initiated this event. The mission of the evangelizer is not to make this encounter happen. We can trust Jesus to take care of that. Instead, our job is to “create conditions” that dispose a person to this encounter.
To create the conditions that are favorable someone to meeting the Lord, we must understand what each person needs in order to open their heart to God. In general, people need love, trust, time, encouragement and respect for their freedom. In addition, each individual is at a different stage in their spiritual journey and will respond differently depending on where they are spiritually. For example, a person who is just beginning to ask the question of God’s existence may need something different from us than the person who has met Christ and is already beginning to follow him.
The Path of Discipleship
It is important for all evangelizers to know the general “shape” of the path of discipleship in order to better understand each person, where they are “at” spiritually, and what they need in order to be disposed to the grace of God. Here are some great metaphors that great Catholic people are using to talk about the path of becoming an intentional disciple of Jesus Christ:
- Five Spiritual Thresholds (Sherry Weddell, document compiled by Archdiocese of Denver)
- The Baseball Diamond (concept from Evangelical Catholic, webinar by Meghan Cokeley, first 5 minutes of video)
- EC’s Baseball Diamond and the Parish Mission (video, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City)
- Building a Fire (Diocese of Metuchen)
- Guide: How to Start an Evangelization Ministry in Your Parish (Archdiocese of Philadelphia)
Ministries of Disciple Formation
Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO)
Starting a successful evangelizing mission takes a lot of work, and it can be difficult to know where to begin. CCO’s Connect: Parish program, through workshops and coaching, can help you establish a multiplying movement in your midst. The centerpiece of this plan is the CCO Faith Study Series. It has been designed to proclaim the Gospel, equip the faithful and commission them to become missionary disciples. These materials are used in a small group setting and allow for a relatable and dynamic proclamation of the Catholic Faith. They are easy-to-lead and have proven effective in bringing about personal conversions.
This three-part evangelization process leads people to encounter Jesus (Discovering Christ), follow him (Following Christ), and learn to share him with others (Sharing Christ). It is designed to lead people through the stages of discipleship through DVD-based teaching, a meal, and building strong community bonds.
Discipleship Quads – Franciscan University of Steubenville
A Discipleship Quad is a group of four people who journey together as disciples through weekly gatherings of fellowship, ongoing conversion, and learning. This 12-month path of accompaniment fosters growth through prayer, accountability, and authentic relationships. This method of discipleship can be launched in almost any setting, within a parish or as a personal ministry. The website provides online training for coordinators and small group materials at no cost.
Evangelical Catholic assists parishes in forming intentional disciples by building and igniting leaders and equipping them to form evangelizing small groups. These evangelizing small groups are created as a place to invite someone to begin a journey to encountering and following Jesus Christ.
FOCUS Parish Outreach
FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) has been one of the most fruitful disciple-maker ministries on college campuses in the world! Parish Outreach is a new initiative which takes FOCUS’ model of spiritual multiplication from the campus to the parish. Experienced campus missionaries transition to the parish mission field and offer their evangelization skills and training to teach parishioners how to pray, evangelize and make disciples of others.
Addressing Spiritual Roadblocks
All of us carry within our hearts “stuff” from the past that, as we follow Christ, will begin to surface. The Lord wants our whole heart and so he will ask us at times to face the things in our hearts that prevent us from belonging fully to him. To ensure that these moments in the spiritual journey become stepping stones instead of roadblocks, it is important for all disciples to know how to make a response to the grace of conversion that Christ is offering us.
The primary fuel of interior transformation is found in the sacraments, spiritual direction, and a regular prayer life. In addition, prayer ministries such as the Unbound Deliverance Ministry can be a very effective help in breaking through our interior roadblocks into deeper freedom in Christ. To learn more about Unbound, click here.