Fostering the Openness of Those Seeking God

What are you going to do to open your heart to Christ just a little bit this Lent?

That was the question I asked a group of young adults as Lent was beginning. The Gospel of Luke, chapter 4, tells the story of Jesus spending 40 days in the desert not eating and being tempted by the devil. This was all to prepare him for his public ministry, which was just about to begin.

Jesus took this time as an opportunity to strengthen himself for what was ahead. I should do the same thing. I should help others do the same thing.

What am I doing this Lent to open my heart to Christ? The answer doesn’t matter so much as long as it is effective for you.

Sherry Weddell’s book, Forming Intentional Disciples, names spiritual openness as the natural next phase on the spiritual journey moving towards discipleship (after trust and curiosity).

This is the phase where the heart is beginning to soften. This is the phase where someone is actively open to the movement of the Spirit in their lives. They are beginning to look for God in their lives and to be open to what God has to say.

When you recognize that someone you minister with has entered this phase, Weddell suggests some very simple, but effective strategies.

  1. Practice nonjudgmental truthfulness. This is the opportunity for you to be open about your struggles of faith and how those struggles have helped you grow in your relationship with Christ. It helps them see that every disciple has questions and that you can still be a good Christian, even if you have some doubts.
  2. Ask thought-provoking questions. This is a common element to working with people in ministry. It is often not about providing answers, but asking the right questions that help them think and reflect. These questions can often…
  3. Help them connect the dots. It’s at this time where you can help them recognize all the ways that God is already working in their lives.
  4. Encourage them to ask God for a sign. This may not be something that you are comfortable with. However, I know that when I intentional ask God for a sign, it’s not so much that a sign is given then and there. It’s more a fact that I will recognize the signs that have been there for a long time in which I just never noticed them before.
  5. Ask them if you can pray for them to be open to God. Again, another bold approach on our part. If they say yes, follow through and pray for them.
  6. Ask them if they would be willing to pray themselves and acknowledge their openness to God. Having a ministry leader pray for them is one thing. Encouraging them to pray themselves is a whole other thing. If I can pray to God myself for openness, the very act of that prayer itself makes me more open then I was before. (pgs 162-163)

If there is one thing I notice about these strategies is that they are difficult to tie to a “program.” It’s a lot easier to practice these steps if you have a relationship with those that are seeking God.

Question: How have you practiced these strategies? Do any of them make you nervous?

Here is a summary of posts for the “Forming Intentional Disciples” series:

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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