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Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus Paperback – July 3, 2012
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Weddel’s “Called and Gifted” work took her to the front lines of evangelization where she saw a “chasm the size of the Grand Canyon” between the Church’s sophisticated theology of a lay apostolate and the lived spiritual-experience of most Catholics. This chasm is the lack of discipleship.
She observed that most active American Catholics are not disciples and are stuck at a passive stage of spiritual development. This has been accepted as normative…shaping our community culture, our pastoral assumptions and our pastoral practices with devastating results.
“Forming Intentional Disciples” is intended to change the direction of discipleship within the Catholic Church. It provides pastoral leaders with a conceptual framework and a proven roadmap for forming disciples and providing a practical path to evangelization.
Intentional discipleship begins in the parish where most Catholics have contact with the Church. She has seen extraordinary fruits and cultural changes in tens of thousands of Catholic men and women resulting from equipping parishes with this program. “If the life at the parish level changes, the life of the whole church will change.”
Weddell explores how we can stem the tide of Catholic losses and better meet the spiritual needs of millions who are searching for faith at this very moment. She says that a majority of Catholics do not know what normal Christianity looks like. They are very uncomfortable talking about their relationship with God.
She has found that the great story of Jesus is the starting point. Learning about and experiencing His closeness, friendship and love is the way to know Him, to love Him and to follow Him. Most Catholics do not know this journey. It is the nucleus of the Gospel that awakens Christian faith and provides a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus.
After showing how parochial culture and pastoral practice have produced devastating results with a distorted sense of what is “normal,” Weddell shares insights gained from her work on the front lines forming intentional disciples. She suggests breaking the Catholic norm of silence by asking “Where is God in all of this?” With this, we can begin to talk about God.
From this starting point, she takes us through the five thresholds one must reach to become an intentional disciple. They are: initial trust, spiritual curiosity, spiritual openness, spiritual seeking and intentional discipleship. She provides stories of parishes and individuals who have followed this path and have experienced great change.
Discipleship matters, intention matters…get beyond catechesis and change the world.
This is a very good and helpful book, and an important one for those who are concerned about sharing the life and love of Christ with family members and others around us. Our ability to do this is rooted in our own conversion and commitment.
The book itself is easy to read. Highly recommended.
What a great commentary of this book:
* "Disciple" comes from the Latin verb that means "to learn." The Lord Jesus is continually teaching us as He draws us closer to Him. After our initial encounter with Christ, a lifelong journey with Him awaits. In ever more beautiful and compelling ways, we learn to become intentional disciples, that is, disciples who consciously intend to learn from the Teacher and to follow the Beloved.
* In "Forming Intentional Disciples," Sherry Weddell writes, "Intentional discipleship is not accidental or merely cultural. It is not just a matter of `following the rules' ... But discipleship begins when `persons at last have the occasion to hear the kerygma, renew their own baptism, consciously choose Christ as their own personal Lord and Savior, and commit themselves actively in the life of their Church.'"
* Without this intentionality, our faith weakens, our desire to learn from Him diminishes, and our initial love for Christ wanes and fades. Without truth, our faith is, in the words of Pope Francis, "reduced to a lofty sentiment which brings consolation and cheer, yet remains prey to the vagaries of our spirit and the changing seasons, incapable of sustaining a steady journey through life ... If love is not tied to truth, it falls prey to fickle emotions and cannot stand the test of time." In our careers and professional undertakings, we recognize the need to continually grow and develop. All the more so, as evangelists on a mission, we need the ongoing renewal that the following three practices offer to us in our life of faith.