Forming Disciples

“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

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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:

Ministries of Disciple Formation

Evangelical Catholic
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.

ChristLife
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. Click here to see which parishes are running ChristLife in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Catholic Christian Outreach
CCO’s primary outreach is on college campuses and their materials reflect that audience in the examples used to convey the Gospel. With a few modifications, these materials can be used to lead adult small groups along the path of discipleship.

FOCUS Crux Bible Study
FOCUS’ primary outreach on college campuses and their materials reflect that audience. The Crux Bible study offers a great example of how to communicate the Good News about Jesus Christ and the Church to someone who is at the very beginning stages of conversion.

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.