What is missionary discipleship? How can we respond to the call to be missionary disciples? In this article we'll explore missionary discipleship and ways to help students and families become enthusiastic messengers of the Gospel both in class and at home. Plus, you'll find a printable Evangelization Resource Kit for your school or parish! Available in English and Spanish.
In the Gospel of Matthew, we read that before he returned to his Father in heaven, Jesus said to his disciples, “Go . . . and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20).
Like the first disciples of Jesus, we share this call. Our Church is a community of missionary disciples. Pope Francis explains, “in virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). 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 rather that we are always “missionary disciples.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 120)
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2013 to 2016, describes missionary discipleship in this way: “To be a missionary disciple . . . is to be a believer who puts these two things together—to experience Christ and to witness to Christ.
How can I respond to the call to be a missionary disciple?
To respond to the call to be missionary disciples does not mean that we must travel far and wide to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Instead, we can be missionary disciples within the contexts of our daily lives. The call to missionary discipleship is all about. It’s a day-to-day, moment-to-moment commitment to being Christ-bearers to all those we meet. We can go out and share our knowledge and experience of God’s love and mercy with others in concrete, everyday ways. Missionary disciples are characterized by the joy of faith and their work entails evangelizing, peacemaking, compassion, and accompaniment.
Pope Francis asks, “what are we waiting for?” (Evangelii Gaudium, 120) We need not and cannot wait be missionary disciples. Download the Everyday Evangelization eBookwith 5 simple ways to evangelize every day at any age. This printable eBook is included in the free Evangelization Resource Kit.
How can I support missionary discipleship?
Missionary discipleship has implications for individuals and for all the institutions and ministries of the Church. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers a resource called Living as Missionary Disciples: A Resource for Evangelization, published by the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. Meant as a guiding resource for dioceses, parishes, and church ministries it proposes principles that can be applied to diverse efforts in evangelization and missionary discipleship.
Additionally, promote everyday evangelization with resources that support missionary discipleship. Download a Evangelization Resource Kit for your school or parish! Available in English and Spanish.