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Forming Missionary 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

Video: What Should Parish Evangelization Look Like?

Slides from this presentation

Whenever a person has a life-changing encounter with Jesus, we know that it is Jesus himself who has initiated this event. The task of the missionary disciple 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.

Guide: Starting Evangelization Ministry in Your Parish

Guide: Maintaining the Mission Mindset at Your Parish Meetings

The Path of Discipleship

It is important for all missionary disciples 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:

Parish-Based Evangelization Ministries

Below are some of the Church’s most effective ministries for making missionary disciples in a parish. To find a parish in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia running one of these ministries, send us an email at

Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO)
CCO works with parishes to help them launch spiritual multiplication in the parish through small groups and one-on-one accompaniment. The CCO process centers on the CCO Faith Study Series, which has been designed to proclaim the Gospel, equip the faithful and commission them to become missionary disciples. Parishes can work with CCO on a formal coaching contract or use the Faith Study Series without coaching. Learn about CCO in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Catholic Missionary Disciples
This organization partners with a parish to coach them through the implementation of a strategic plan to launch a sustain a missionary discipleship movement. A partnership involves small group coaching for parish staff and leaders as well as one-on-on mentoring for individual leaders. 

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. Learn more about ChristLife in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

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. Learn more about EC in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

FOCUS Parish
FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) has been one of the most fruitful disciple-maker ministries on college campuses in the world. FOCUS Parish is a new initiative which takes FOCUS’ model of spiritual multiplication from the campus to the parish. See the links below to find free resources for forming and training missionary disciples in your community.

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.

The Rescue Project
This is a 9-part series presented by Fr. John Riccardo of the Acts XXIX apostolate, which communicates the core message of the Gospel (the kerygma). The videos and guides for facilitators and participants are available for free on the website. The series is also available in Spanish (dubbed).  

The Search – on
The Search is a 7-part Augustine Institute Original Series with the goal of lighting that first fire in those who don’t yet know the faith or reigniting the fire in those who need a primer on the foundational questions: Who am I? What am I searching for? What’s our shared story? Who is Jesus? Why do we need a Church? Is there a God? This series is an excellent tool that will help you lead others into a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and to invite them to make a decision for Him.  

Metanoia – from The Ministry of the Wild Goose
This 10-part series featuring Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR, President of Franciscan University and founder of The Ministry of the Wild Goose, leads us on a journey with Christ into conversion. Each of the episodes explores areas of our life where conversion is so often necessary. Metanoia will examine topics such as who is Jesus, what must we do to inherit eternal life, and many other significant matters of faith. With preaching from Fr. Dave as well as personal testimonies from men and women, young and old, religious and lay, their stories will inspire you to seek to encounter Jesus and the new life he is constantly inviting us to.

Communio is a nonprofit that consults with parishes to use 21st century data tools and best practices to reach out by offering relationship health ministry to strengthen marriages and families in their community. It is especially designed to help parishes reach inactive Catholics and the religiously unaffiliated, along with their own active parishioners.  

Training Programs for Parishes and Teams

These programs are designed to form and equip active Catholics in the fundamentals of missionary discipleship.  You can also use the ministries above to form and train your leaders. 

Ananias Training
Ananias Training is a 17-hour process structured in five sessions, designed to form parishioners with no previous training in “the art of spiritual accompaniment.” The training will use Scripture reflections, video, and facilitated discussions to form “Ananiases.” The goal of Ananias Training is to form a people equipped to be Ananias to one another within the Church as well as to those in the world, within the context of one’s own charisms and personal vocation.  Learn more at

FOCUS Training Resources
The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) has made many of their training materials and evangelizing Bible studies available for free online.  

Forming Intentional Disciples
This foundational book by Sherry Weddell offers an excellent overview of the state of the Church with regard to inactive Catholics, the fundamentals of evangelization, the thresholds of conversion and other essentials for launching an evangelization movement in a parish. 

Ignite: Introduction to the New Evangelization Presentations 
This presentation offers an introduction to the principles of evangelization for ministry leaders who serve in parishes. Its goal is to help infuse the mission of evangelization into every ministry of the parish.  Staff of the Office for the New Evangelization can offer this workshop in English or Spanish. 

Institute for Ministry Formation, St. Vincent’s Seminary, Latrobe, PA
The Institute for Ministry Formation (IMF) is an extension of Saint Vincent Seminary’s commitment to the formation and education of priests, laity, and religious. The Christian life is about service, and service is ministry! Using new technology and traditional methods for learning and gathering, the IMF gathers this community, grows and supports their faith, and helps guide their response to God’s call by forming their hearts and minds. Particularly recommended are:

Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate
Community of contemplative-missionary sisters whose primary apostolate is outreach to inactive Catholics, especially through door-to-door visitation.   The Archdiocese of Philadelphia rejoices to have a convent of Parish Visitor sisters in Clifton Heights, PA.  The PVMI door-to-door manual and some audio CDs are available for purchase. For more information, visit their website. 

Relit: The Heart of Evangelization
Dynamic training program consisting of 18 DVD-based sessions that forms and equips your core faithful theologically, spiritually, and practically so that they can be active evangelists in their own parish and beyond.

ReviveParishes Ministry Training
Revive Parishes provides online ministry training for parish leaders taught by the best and most experienced Catholic ministry practitioners in the country.  There is no cost to use the Revive platform.  Recommended courses: Missionary Discipleship with Julianne Stanz, Everyday Apostles with Ryan O’Hara and Parish Renewal with Tim Glemkowski. For more information and to sign up for courses, visit

Schools of Missionary Discipleship
This is a 12-session in person training course offered by the Office for the New Evangelization. The purpose of these schools is two-fold: to be formed more deeply in your friendship with Jesus Christ (discipleship) and to be equipped with the skills for helping others come to encounter Jesus’ great love for them (mission). For course topics and current schedule, visit

St. Paul School of Evangelization 
The St. Paul School of Evangelization is the educational arm of St. Paul Street Evangelization dedicated to training, equipping, and mobilizing Catholic disciples for the urgent work of evangelization. Training is available in person or online. 

How to Lead a Transformative Small Group
A powerful part of all fruitful evangelization is to offer people an experience of a small group. In a small group, friendships are formed, faith is strengthened, and new insights emerge. Whether you are running small groups for ChristLife, Evangelical Catholic, CCO, a FOCUS Bible Study or an adult faith formation program, the small group discussion is a pivotal part of helping a person moving into a deeper encounter with Jesus. Since small groups are so important for spiritual growth, it’s important that we run them well and create a life-giving experience for participants. Here are some great resources that offer tips on how to effectively facilitate a small group experience: 

One-Time Evangelizing Events

Below are listed one-time events for parishes designed to inspire the faith of practicing Catholics as well as reach out to inactive Catholics and the religiously unaffiliated. Most of these organizations offer a plan for post-event follow-up with attendees to help them keep the fire burning and grow in their discipleship.  


Addressing Spiritual Roadblocks

Unbound Ministry
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. The Five Keys of the Unbound model of deliverance help a person to make deliberate acts of faith, repentance, forgiveness and renunciation around the area where they are stuck in order to allow the power of the Gospel to break into their areas of darkness and lead them ever forward into the Father’s love. Without this key piece, would-be disciples of the Lord risk getting stuck along the journey. To learn more about Unbound, click here.