What is at the heart of Discipleship Formation? This quote from Unleash the Gospel tells us:
“To follow Jesus is to be in a constant process of growth, like the seed that fell on rich soil. We seek to be more like Jesus, to treat others as he did, to pray as he prayed, to love as he loved, and to honor God in every area of our lives, including marriage, family life, finances, work, and leisure activities. Growing as his disciple demands a daily surrender to the one who loved us and gave his life for us: ‘I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me’ (Gal 2:20). Parishes need to help parishioners to grow continually in discipleship and deepen their relationship with Christ.”
Unleash the Gospel, Marker 9.2
Discipleship Formation leads believers to a deeper knowledge and love of the person of Jesus Christ. Following Jesus as a disciple involves a commitment to the people of God — the Church. It reflects a passion for catechesis and evangelization. Through the new Mission Direct area of Discipleship Formation, parishes have the opportunity to nurture the rich soil that helps disciples grow more like Christ in their actions and understanding.
While parishes have been doing this in various ways through numerous ministries, this new structure supports the following areas of ministry to enhance and nurture discipleship:
Childhood faith formation
Adult faith formation
What will Discipleship Formation look like?
How these ministries look in each Family of Parishes will vary based on need and community, but this new structure shows that each of these ministries help individuals and families grow.
Imagine a family with students in 10th grade, 7th grade, and 4th grade whose parents are open to growing more in their faith. This one family would find all they need — youth ministry, sacramental prep, childhood faith formation, a family small group, and adult faith formation opportunities — all through the Director of Discipleship Formation and the various Coordinators of these ministries. This family would be able to grow as disciples and connect with a community that accompanies them on that journey.
How will Discipleship Formation work?
Each of the ministries under Discipleship Formation aims to provide formation in the path of lifelong discipleship, stresses the importance of forming leaders to assist in these areas of ministry, and fosters the theological and spiritual growth of those being served. They each do this in distinct ways, utilizing various strategies and resources. These ministries are defined in the Families of Parishes Playbook and will be explored in future articles.
In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis writes, “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries’, but that we are always ‘missionary disciples.’ The Mission Direct structure gives us the opportunity to live that out through our Families of Parishes.