instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Forming Intentional Disciples, pt. 3

Gotta keep writing, if I'm ever going to finish reviewing Forming Intentional Disciples and give the book to my pastor.

Having, in Chapter 1, identified -- through vision-clearing, cant-dispelling analysis of truly harrowing statistics -- the problem that the Catholic Church in the United States is failing to transmit the Catholic Faith to Catholics, and diagnosed the reason in Chapters 2 through 5 -- viz, that the Catholic Church in the United States is failing to make disciples -- Sherry goes in in the central chapters to describe the "thresholds of conversion," and how knowledge of them can help Catholic parishes to make disciples, even out of lifelong Catholics.

The five thresholds of conversion,empirically discovered by an evangelical Christian and confirmed over the Catherine of Siena Institute's eight years of Making Disciples workshops, were found to
culminate[] in a commitment to follow Jesus Christ as a disciple. Each transition to a new threshold was a genuine work of grace, empowered by the Holy Spirit, but each threshold also required real spiritual energy and real choices on the part of the person making the journey. Conversion didn't "just happen".... [pp 127-128]
The thresholds are:
  1. Initial trust, whether in Jesus, the Church, or even just some nice old lady who happened to be a Christian.
  2. Spiritual curiosity, an "essentially passive" state where one wants to know more.
  3. Spiritual openness, an acknowledgement that the person is, not yet committed, but "open to the possibility of change."
  4. Spiritual seeking, which transitions from passivity to actively seeking God and His place in their lives.
  5. Intentional discipleship, "a conscious commitment to follow Jesus in the midst of his Church as an obedient disciple and to reorder one's life accordingly."
If these thresholds are normative, then a parish that wants to make disciples ought to structure its programs and train its evangelists to meet people where they are and help them work their way across the thresholds that lie between where they are and discipleship.

How to do just that, with examples from parishes that are already at it, is the subject of Chapters 5-8.