I’ve always disliked cats. I grew up with cats, but I still disliked them. (But Americans most love them , hence the new Monopoly piece.)
When I was about 10 years old, my family had a cat named Boots. Before the days of Puss N’ Boots, we had a cat that literally had white furred boots on all four of her legs.
Unfortunately for me, these boots came with claws.
I was sitting at the breakfast table eating my typical bowl of Wheaties, getting mentally prepared for a soccer game that morning. I was dressed in my full soccer uniform. Our team color was yellow, so, I had on yellow knee-high socks that could fit my shin guards.
Now, I don’t know if cats are color blind or not, but Boots took particular interest in my yellow socks. That morning, as I was enjoying my bowl of cereal, Boots came to my feet and decided to claw at my yellow socks.
I jumped from the table and yelled at Boots, as she ran away with what I thought was a smile of delight.
Curiosity almost killed the cat that day.
However, curiosity does not kill the disciple. In fact, curiosity creates more intentional disciples.
As I continue to delve into Sherry Weddell’s book, Forming Intentional Disciples, she suggests that once a person moves into the trust phase, that is when they begin to become more curious about the faith.
As Weddell suggests, “we are not, as this threshold, about the business of telling people all that the Church teaches. Rather, our goal is to arouse spiritual curiosity by our lives and by raising questions that pose the ultimate question: ‘Who do you think that Jesus is?’” (146)
She previously says that, “One of the best ways to rouse curiosity is to ask questions, not answer them” (145).
Instead of yelling at the curious cat that scratched me and my yellow socks, what is my response when people begin to ask questions about the faith and become curious?
I’ve been accused of being an answer man. I’ll admit that there is some truth to that. I’ve answered questions that people weren’t even asking! That part of my character does not aid me well in helping form intentional disciples.
Here are 3 strategies that I’m attempting to pursue in my ministry:
- Answer questions with more questions. Jesus did this all the time. “Jesus asked 183 questions, gave 3 answers, and answered 307 questions with a question in return…” (147). When someone asks a question of faith, help them take that question deeper. What’s the deeper thought? If someone asks you, “Why does the Church encourage you to go to reconciliation?” A response in return might be: “Why do you think forgiveness is an important part of being a Christian?” This questions moves more to the heart of the question that they were originally asking. The question is not about reconciling our sins to a priest, but is a more towards the concept of sin and forgiveness.
- Give them the resources they need to answer their own questions. You and I should have a list of books, podcasts, websites, and blogs where we can encourage people to find answers. The more they have to search for the answer, the more the answer will impact them on their journey. If you and I just hand it to them, then they have not worked hard in their search for truth. Your parish website should be one of these resources. (By the way, if you have some great resources to share, please add them in the comments section.)
- Connect them with other curious people. Having a ministry at your church where they can gather and share their questions together can be an important ministry. This helps them understand that they are not alone in the curious phase and will go a long way to building a community that grows together. This can be the beginning of a small group ministry.
When the curious cat scratches you because of your yellow socks, don’t turn them away from their curiosity by yelling at them. Invite them into the conversation and welcome the scratches on your leg.
Question: How can you best respond to someone in the “curious” stage of their faith?
Here is a summary of posts for the “Forming Intentional Disciples” series: