The Clear Path to Discipleship: Step 1
We all know that there is no silver bullet, no one program that will completely renew our parishes. Even the best programs fail if our parishioners don’t know what’s next. Parishioners will simply hop from program to program if we don’t tell them the process that will lead to growth in their relationship with God.
We call this a clear path to discipleship. When a person enters a parish, do they know what steps to take in order to grow in their relationship with God?
In order for a parish to build this clear path, we’ve identified 4 steps in the process:
Step 1: Relational Outreach – the efforts of a parish to meet people who don’t yet have a relationship with Christ and to build trust and arouse wonder at the way that we live as Christians. That is, witnessing to the love of Jesus.
Step 2: Conversion Engine – the effort to proclaim the basic message of the gospel and to invite people to accept the message of Jesus, accept him and begin following him as a disciple in the midst of His church.
Step 3: Discipleship Formation – once someone has accepted Jesus, they become his disciple. They’ve turned from their former way of life and begin following him, and they really need to be established in the life of the community. And, they guidance to be established in the life of the sacraments and begin building good habits of a Christian life.
Step 4: Missionary Initiative – sending disciples out to evangelize, both through their words and through their witness. This step helps parishioners identify their charisms and discover their mission field, the people that they’re most uniquely suited to serve. It’s about a full discovery of their baptismal promises.
The Clear Path to Discipleship is the process of how a parish accompanies people in their growth, and there are carefully selected programs that make up that process. However, every program is at the service of the process, and the process is ultimately at the service of the people.