donate

Earthblog

A Real-World Joomla! Template

 
"Growing True Disciples" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Saturday, 22 September 2007 11:12
This post is a nice follow-up to the one just made by Sherry, I think. I had been working on this yesterday and today, and just saw her post when I prepared to upload this.

I just finished reading a book by George Barna, the president of Barna Research Group, Ltd., a marketing research firm that focuses on issues related to faith and culture. He's an evangelical whose company has conducted research for hundreds of churches and parachurch ministries.

His book, "Growing True Disciples," is interesting in terms of his insistence that the focus of Christian ministry is to encourage and facilitate discipleship. Similarly, Pope Paul VI said in Evangelii Nuntiandi that the Church exists to evangelize, and the purpose of evangelizing, is, of course, to make disciples of Jesus. Barna's book looks at models of promoting discipleship used by different Protestant churches. All of the models demand a lot more from the individual than most Catholics are used to giving. The point that's made clear in the book is that discipleship usually doesn't "just happen," just as any significant change in the way we live doesn't "just happen."

Acts 2:42-47 describes (perhaps ideally) what the early church community looked like. What it describes is a group of people who are completely "sold out" to Jesus; who seek to not only follow his teaching, but to allow his life and power to flow through them. They have made following Jesus the focus and content of their life: all else is secondary

Early on in the book (p. 27), Barna lists the characteristics of a true disciple. They are challenging:

"Disciples experience a changed future through their acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and of the Christian faith as their defining philosophy of life.

Disciples undergo a changed lifestyle that is manifested through Christ-oriented values, goals, perspectives, activities, and relationships.

Disciples mature into a changed worldview, attributable to a deeper comprehension of the true meaning and impact of Christianity. Truth become an entirely God-driven reality to a disciple. Pursuing the truths of God becomes the disciple's lifelong quest."

Of course, there's something missing here, yet is present throughout the disciple-making models he presents: a community of faith.

All of his models insist upon regular participation in a church community. It is through engagement with the word (and thus the Word), communal prayer, encouragement from other Christians, and accountability to others - as well, of course, through grace - that disciples are formed. As Catholics, we also include active, conscious participation in the sacramental life of the Church as a crucial, non-negotiable element.

While Barna's book has its flaws, and I don't agree with all of his presuppositions, I appreciate the unrelenting emphasis upon discipleship. He challenges pastoral ministers like myself to ask tough questions like, "Is my preaching, counseling, teaching, and leadership in and out of worship effective in assisting people to become disciples?"

I also have to ask myself if my life reflects the life of a true disciple. Do I consistently obey Jesus' commands and His Church's teachings? Do I love other people in practical ways that cause me to "pour out my life" for them? Have I put the attractions and distractions of this world in their proper place and focused my desire upon knowing, loving and serving God? Is my life "a living Gospel for all people to read"? Am I sharing my faith with others who do not know Christ?

In short, is my life bearing fruit worthy of a follower of the risen Lord?

One of the practices of most of the Christian communities that are successful in promoting discipleship is the setting of personal spiritual goals and practices that may help reach those goals. These goals must be practical, achievable, and specific; not simply "I will be more loving," but "I will stop gossiping about Mary Jane and instead spend time getting to know her better, choosing to discover her good qualities, and pointing out those good qualities as attributes that give glory to God."

That may be a little too specific, but you get the idea.

So that's my project for the next week or so: to re-evaluate my life and pinpoint some areas where I want to grow in my relationship to Christ and the Church, and come up with a gameplan. Maybe I'll share some of what I discover with you. Feel free to do the same.
 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Order From Our Store

RSS

Blog
10698-scenes-from-the-life-of-mary-magdal-giotto-di-bondone
Wiley meaninglessly http://www.observatoriuniversitari.org/qmu/img/comprar-cialis-generico-online.php decelerating gnawed
carrots cheap viagra read wrought cuisine If your destination is on the Northeast Corridor, this isn't a big deal (departures are every hour) but in other parts of the country the next train may not be until tomorrow. If your reservations involved sleeper accommodations (Amtrak's First Class on their long-distance overnight trains) on either your late-arriving train or your missed connection, you will get a hotel voucher for the unplanned overnight stay. Customer Service will commonly offer travel vouchers of $100 or more off future Amtrak travel to inconvenienced passengers. This is true for all classes of service. If you plan to board an Amtrak train at a location other than the train's initial place of departure, it's usually a good idea to call ahead before you leave for the station to see if the train is running on time. A major Amtrak line in regular daily use by Americans is the Acela Express line, running between Boston and Washington, D. Financial and managerial accounting principles. Basic accounting statements, processes, and management applications. Open to all students. Crocodyliform systematics and diversity, with the description of new taxa from the Cretaceous of Texas. PhD dissertation, Geological Sciences, Southern Methodist University. Digital paleoart: reconstruction and restoration from laser-scanned fossils. MS thesis, Drexel University, 228 p. She tends to spend her evenings sleeping at friends' houses. Although she appears close to her brother, I know she sees and is influenced him. She gets no reward, but the son gets free cable, food, sleeping until noon and no curfew. I don't see any change and am now having to make the hard decisions for my own life, which don't include any of the ongoing drama. My BF and I both agree that his son could not move into my home (which would ultimately be our home), so I am left to wait. Ever hopeful, he solicited funding for renewing his plans for a conquest of Mexico, but was rebuffed. Spanish Florida or British possessions in the Caribbean. After returning from Europe, Burr used the surname "Edwards," his mother's maiden name, stendra for a while to avoid creditors. With help from old friends Samuel Swartwout and Matthew L. Burr was able to return to New York and his law practice..