Forming Disciples in the Parish: The Double in Five Challenge

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1 Break the Silence! Forming Disciples in the Parish: The Double in Five Challenge A. Talk openly about the possibility of a relationship with a personal God who loves you. Talk about your relationship with God. B. Talk explicitly about following Jesus: Drop the Name! a. Jesus Christ is not a topic that the Church believes in. He is the Center, the Savior, the Lord, the Redeemer, the Head, the Cornerstone, the Bridegroom of his Church. C. Do Ask: Ask others about their lived relationship with God. a. Never accept a religious label in place of a story! D. Do Tell: Your personal story of Jesus E. Do Tell: The Great Story of Jesus (Kerygma or Initial proclamation) a. We Have to presume - Even many Catholics in our pews don t know the basic facts of The Story. - A good deal of what they know may be wrong. - They don t know how the parts of The Story fit together to make a whole. - They don t know what The Story means for them personally o for their family o for their friends, neighbors, co-workers o for their world Double in Five Challenge A. Offer multiple, overlapping opportunities for baptized and non baptized people to personally encounter Jesus in the midst of his Church. a. Nearly everything we do in parishes can be given an evangelizing tweak. b. Two critical anchors: i. A truly evangelizing RCIA process ii. Parish based evangelization retreats/courses. c. Case Study: Sacred Heart Parish, Boise, Idaho i. Held evangelization retreats for 16 years. ii. Impact: - 25% of adults are intentional disciples - 40% of parishioners involved in ministries % involved in ministries have gone through evangelization retreats - Attendance, giving went up (highest per capita giving in the diocese) - Crafting a parish motto: Being a beacon of Christ s love. o Question: Would anyone besides parishioners notice if the parish wasn t here? Double in Five Challenge cont d B. Expect conversion. Plan for conversion. C. Expect these conversations. Prepare for these conversations.

2 D. Think through the existing resources, initiatives, or people in your parish, region, or diocese that you can connect seekers to. E. Lay the foundation of intercessory prayer. Parishes Who Want to Make Disciples There is NO one way that works for every community! A. What will be most effective in your parish will depend - The existing culture in your parish - How many disciples you have in your parish currently - The current spiritual norm of your community - The charisms, skills, and personality of your leadership - The unique challenges you face - The leading of the Holy Spirit B. Evangelization is not Protestant a. We can fruitfully learn from and be challenged by evangelical strengths in this area b. There are historically Catholic ways of evangelizing that Protestant evangelists and missionaries are studying! (Remember, they learned how to evangelize from us in the first place.) IF We Were Really Serious IF we prayed in an intense, organized, sustained way, IF we shattered the silence in our parishes and dioceses and campus ministries and schools in every possible way IF we told the Great Story of Jesus (the kergyma) over and over in a thousand different ways to our people. IF we systemically and consistently challenged our people about where they are in their journey and about the possibility of following Jesus as his disciples in the midst of his Church IF we celebrated and supported new disciples in an on-going way. We could quadruple the number of intentional disciples in the US Catholic Church in 10 years. Parishes on the Way A. Parish #1: Southern California, large (6000+ families), upper middle class, mountain parish a. Time: from 5% of 2,000 were intentional disciples (100) - to 8% of 5,400 are intentional disciples (432) + 400% b. Approach: i. Called & Gifted since Over 700 have been through Called & Gifted. ii. Discovering Christ (christlife.org) since have attended Discovering Christ series.

3 - In 2014 alone 250 attended. iii. The kergyma integrated into formation of Eucharistic Ministers and bereavement ministers. c. Impact: i. Disciples are becoming the backbone of the community. ii. Breaking the Silence: At every major parish gathering, a disciple shares their story of his/her relationship with Jesus. iii. One disciple spawned a group of contractors who build houses for the poor. iv. 1 or 2 people who are hostile (!) enter RCIA yearly v. One young woman discerned a call to be a Carmelite sister through C & G. vi. Requests for help getting huge responses because people have discerned their charisms B. Parish #2: Medium size (3200 families), wealthy, Southern California beach parish a. Time: : - from about 100 disciples (5%) - to intentional disciples ( %) b. Approach: i. Read the signs of the times : How is a new building and a new pope calling us to be a parish of intentional disciples? 1. Series of formation sessions and meetings with a. Pastoral Staff b. Pastoral Council c. Ministry Leaders d. Those with a love for evangelization 2. Fruit: culture of silence begins to crack amongst leadership ii. Tweak what you already have; add what you need 1. Tweak: First 15 since Tweak: existing small community network (Christian Life Communities) 3. Add: Evangelization retreat in 2007 c. Impact: i. Majority of pastoral council are disciples. ii. Council produced a new parish plan focused on evangelization. iii. Attendance up 11% October 2013 vs. October 2008 iv. Offertory Giving up 14% in midst of $18 million capital campaign for new church and site improvements. v. Capital Campaign pledge redemption on track. vi. 1,500 more people at Christmas Masses 2013 vs An additional 1000 more people at Easter Masses 2014!

4 C. Parish #3: Medium size, suburban, middle class parish in heavily culturally Catholic area (Chicago area) a. Time: i. from: roughly 3.5% intentional disciples ii. to: about 8.5% intentional disciples b. Approach: i. Primary evangelization process: Encounter (home-grown) c. Impact: i. Small groups focusing entirely on discipleship ii. Growing sense of presence of Christ during liturgy iii. New group of evangelization leaders--all disciple iv. disciples emerging out of RCIA. v. Growing interest in healing ministry vi. 10% growth in Mass attendance spiritual seekers seeking out the parish. vii. Staff planning a programmatic, structural revolution 1. Creating RE program that evangelizes parents as well as children. d. Challenges: i. Spiritual inertia (lack a deep pool of disciple-leaders) D. Parish #4: Large parish (3000 families), small town, Ann Arbor, MI area, upper middle class a. Time: 2013-present i. Trigger: Pastor read Forming Intentional Disciples in February, 2013 in two days b. Approach: i. Primary evangelization process: The Alpha Course ii. Parish mission (February) preached by pastor about FID, thresholds of prediscipleship, dropping your net iii. Youth retreat centered around Eucharistic Adoration. All the kids were given fishing net. iv. Got permission from Archbishop to move Confirmation to 5 th grade (age 10) as a 3 year experiment. c. Impact: i. Fall, 2013 all adult programs replaced by the Alpha course offered 7 days a week to ensure that every adult in the parish hears the kerygma 1. 1,000 attended % moved at least one threshold % had a dramatic, life-transforming experience. 4. Drew in new people who don t normally attend formation events. 5. Built community: many said they loved meeting new people while exploring relationship with God. Questions: What are the tweaks and adds that could help your parish break the silence? What can you do personally to break the silence?

5 Break the Silence! Listening Evangelization: Threshold Conversations A Threshold Conversation : To invite a individual to talk Simply and directly about his/her lived relationship or journey with God We listen respectfully and prayerfully To learn what threshold he/she is at Goal: To know where to start in encouraging and facilitating him/her to take the next step on the journey to intentional discipleship. A Threshold Conversation Is Not Spiritual direction Faith Sharing Pastoral counseling Catechesis Interrogation Judgmental A Threshold Conversation Can be started almost anywhere or anytime that an adult seeks pastoral care or sacramental ministry. It can be shortened and simplified as necessary. o RCIA inquirers/returning Catholics o Parish registration o Pastoral counseling o Spiritual direction o Marriage preparation o Gifts discernment interviews, etc. Can also be done with family, friends, and acquaintances once trust has been established. A Threshold Conversation begins with this basic question: Can you describe your relationship with God to this point in your life? The Life-Changing Power of Asking This may be the first time anyone has asked them a question about their relationship with God and really listened. It raises the issue of lived relationship with God for those who may never have thought about it or known that a personal relationship with God is possible. When an individual has the chance to articulate what they believe about something, it often opens them up to new possibilities. Upon reflection, a person may not be satisfied with the answer he/she gave. Never Accept a Label It doesn t matter if the person we are listening to calls herself a practicing Catholic or an atheist or an agnostic or whatever.

6 We can t assume that we know what she means by using a particular religious label. She has to tell us what this label means to her and what her living experience of God has been like. Never accept a label in the place of hearing a description of her actual lived relationship with God. Always ask what she means. Having a Threshold Conversation Basic Listening Points Believe in God? What kind of God? (personal or impersonal) Believe in possibility of relationship with this God? Have a relationship with this God? What kind of relationship? Part of a religious tradition? What tradition? Points of trust re: Christ, Church, faith, a Christian? Knowledge of/lived relationship with Jesus Christ? Christian? Intentional Disciple? Apostle? The Question Can you describe your relationship with God to this point in your life? Threshold Conversation: 5 Possible Directions Remember: Baptized Catholics can be found in all the categories below. I don t believe in God Atheist I don t know Agnostic Higher-Power / Impersonal Force Believer in personal God; no relationship Believer in personal God & relationship o Religious unaffiliated o Non-Christian faith o Relationship with Jesus, not Christian o Christian, unchurched o Active Christian; Disciple; Apostle Atheist - When people describe themselves as an atheist, they may not mean that they don't believe in any God at all. - They may be trying to say that they don't believe in a particular kind of God. Atheists Can Be Surprisingly Religious 15% believe in God or a universal spirit 6% believe in a God with whom you can have a relationship. 19% are formal members of religious congregations 14% attend religious services at least yearly 5% are involved in congregational activities monthly

7 10% pray at least weekly outside religious services 21% believe miracles happen today 39% have talked to other people about their ideas of God (so they might well be open to talking to you!) -Pew US Religious Landscape Survey, 2008 If they say: I m an Atheist, Ask: What do you mean by atheist? o Tell me about the God you don t believe in. o Sum up his description of the God he doesn t believe in. (See Atheist I Don t Believe ) Do you believe in any other kind of God or universal spirit? o If he says yes ask: Can you describe the God you do believe in? Take the conversation in the direction that matches his response. (See When Someone Says They Believe in God ) o If he says no, take the conversation in the I don t believe direction. Atheist I Don t Believe Spiritual thresholds: pre-trust, trust, curiosity? Q: Tell me about the God you don t believe in. Have you ever believed in God? If so, why did you stop? Do you ever pray? If so, how? What gives meaning to your life? Have you had any significant exposure to religion or spirituality at some point? Ever attended a religious congregation or school? Are you close to any religious or spiritual person(s)? Why do you like/trust him or her? What role does God play in his/her life? How do you feel about that? (if it seems appropriate) Could you ever imagine believing in God? If so, what would that God be like? If you think he/she is at threshold of curiosity, ask: - What do you know or believe about Jesus Christ? When Someone Says They Believe in God We cannot assume that they mean a personal God with whom a human being can have a relationship. Many people believe God is an impersonal force - 29% of Catholics - 12% of atheists - 36% of agnostics - 40% of secular unaffiliated - 35% of religious unaffiliated - 19% of Protestants - 34% of Orthodox - 50% of Jews -Pew US Religious Landscape Survey, 2008

8 The Last Question For All If you could ask God one question that you knew he would answer right away, what would it be? The answer is usually a reflection of current questions, struggles, felt needs that you might be able to address or that some person or resource in the parish might be able to address. For your consideration: Structuring the inquiry part of RCIA around the real questions of inquirers is a very powerful way to help them move into curiosity, openness and even seeking. Questions: 1. Where should threshold conversations happen in your parish? Are they already happening? 2. What are the implications of asking these questions for your parish? ministries? groups?

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