I’m so intrigued by Sherry Weddell’s book, Forming Intentional Disciples, that I’ve decided to turn this into a series of posts in reaction to her writings and my own personal reflections.
The question that stands for me so far is this: how do I form intentional disciples as a ministry leader? Weddell is answering that question one excellent chapter after another.
So far, I’ve written 2 posts on this subject:
The first post can be summed up by one word: concern. The statistics that are presented should be enough to concern any ministry leader.
The second can be summed up by another “c” word: conversion. Have adults in the church experienced a conversion in their faith and relationship with God?
This post can be summed up by the word calling.
Weddell writes, “Priests have always loomed larger in the Catholic imagination than in actual fact. There were 48,415 more priests in the world in 2010 than in 1950…But because of the staggering growth in the number of Catholics, bishops and priests make up only a tiny fraction (0.035 percent) of the body Catholic…In 1978, lay Catholics were only 10.8 percent of the Church’s recognized workforce… In 2009, lay catechists and missionaries…made up roughly 72 percent of the 4.8-million-person ‘Workforce of the Church’s Apostolate’” (pgs. 87-88).
Clearly, there are many lay people in the church that have answered the call of God into ministry as a career. The quote above focuses in on one thing: the church’s ability to grow and serve is dependent on priests AND lay people.
When I was in college, I experienced the opportunity to ask this question over and over again: what is God calling me to?
Maybe it was because I went to a Catholic university and was heavily involved in campus ministry. Maybe it was just a natural extension of my first conversion experience when I was in high school.
Nevertheless, I struggled to answer that question. I felt so indebted to God that I felt I needed to answer that question so I could effectively serve God. Even though the answer has changed depending on what phase of life I am in, it is still a question I often ask.
Do other Catholic Christian adults ask that same question?
Weddell suggests that, “Our parishes need to become places where it is normal for adult Catholics to ask, ‘What is God calling me to?” (pg. 92)
Fundamentally, my goal as a ministry leader is to provide experiences of ministry that encourage adults and youth to ask this question and try to come to some sort of answer for themselves. Answering this question is dependent on knowing a couple things about myself:
- What is my relationship with God like? How does God view me right now? My spiritual director used to ask this question of me often. My image of God and God’s image of me play a profound role in my ability to know God’s call in my life.
- What are my gifts and strengths? I can best serve through my areas of giftedness, not my areas of weakness.
- How can my church community support me in this endeavor? Without the continuous support of the community, answering God’s call is impossible. The community becomes an integral part of my ability to understand God’s call for me and to act on it. My spouse, my friends, and my small group can become the foundation on which I am encouraged to serve God.
A conversion experience must be followed by a willingness to ask the question, “what is God calling me to?” My ministry must not only embrace the conversion experience as normal, but it must also be followed up with a call to action, a call to serve in the way only God can call me.
Question: How can your ministry help others answer the question, “What is God calling me to?”
Here is a summary of posts for the “Forming Intentional Disciples” series: