From Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to Pope Francis, much of the Church’s attention has been devoted to evangelization, specifically how disciples become disciples. Missionary discipleship is a term that has gained popularity under Pope Francis. It signifies disciples who are proactive and intentional when it comes to looking for opportunities to encounter Christ and to help others do the same. Missionary disciples are always on the lookout for God’s activity in their life; they are motivated by the joy of sharing the blessings of God with others.
Missionary disciples are always on the lookout for God’s activity in their life; they are motivated by the joy of sharing the blessings of God with others.
Missionary discipleship is an interpersonal approach to evangelization. As stated in previous posts, it requires a commitment to engaging others on a personal level and deepening that relationship to allow faith sharing to take place. In other words, missionary discipleship doesn’t begin with what we can do for God, but what God wants to do, through us, for others.
In addition, faith is not fully lived, fully realized until we are fully engaged in sharing it. This doesn’t mean that we become preachers or “bible thumpers” on some street corner, it just means that our experience of faith is deeper and richer than simply receiving it. We are called to share it; and in sharing faith, we receive it all the more! Many Catholics often do not (or never) experience the gift of sharing their faith with others. Either they do not know they ought to—and that the benefit of doing so is a greater personal commitment to Christ and a more vibrant experience of faith as faith-in-action—or they do not feel comfortable sharing faith because they do not feel prepared.
Jesus calls everyone to share his word and mission with our community. Let us accept that mission and defend it at every opportunity that comes our way. Download the Missionary Prayer Prayer Card and share it in your community.
Missionary discipleship begins with one’s own relationship with Jesus Christ. The word “missionary” implies going out somewhere. While disciples certainly do go places to spread the word of God, they are also called to go out of their comfort zones. With this in mind, we return to the disciple’s own relationship with Jesus: Is there a call and response dynamic? Is Jesus asking you to share his love with others more intentionally? If so, with whom is he calling you to share it? What does that look like? In short, a missionary disciple’s own spirituality must be dynamic, pointing outward to engaging others. For some, this does not come easily. But even the most introverted are being called to be more of a missionary in their role as disciple.
A missionary disciple’s own spirituality must be dynamic, pointing outward to engaging others. For some, this does not come easily. But even the most introverted are being called to be more of a missionary in their role as disciple.
As missionary disciples, catechists are called to engage students through sound teaching and their personal witness of faith. The two go hand-in-hand. In practice, catechists might teach about the Trinity (Three Persons, One God), and then go on to explain how knowing the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit has made a difference in their lives. Furthermore, the catechist would strive to help students relate to each Person of the Trinity and, in their own language, describe why each is meaningful to them. Part of teaching the faith is our ability to share it on a personal level. The missionary disciple (or missionary catechist in this case) is more than willing to do so.
Discover ideas and resources that will help students and families become enthusiastic messengers of the Gospel both in class and at home.
Parents, too, are called to go out, to be missionaries. While this might sound strange, at first, think about all the opportunities moms and dads have to catechize their children. Catechesis doesn’t just take place in the home, as the new Directory for Catechesis points out, catechesis can take place anywhere, anytime. We are spending a lot of time online these days. Our own social networks are the perfect venue for missionary discipleship. Consider sharing a religious picture or work of art, or a scripture quote with your friends, and see where the conversation goes. Bottom line: catechesis is appropriate wherever and whenever there are two or more gathered in faith, whether in person or online. The new Directory refers to this as “casual catechesis.” But parents don’t always feel comfortable taking advantage of the teaching moments daily life offers; and more often than not—myself included—we don’t even notice these moments when they occur. They need support from their catechists, pastors, deacons, and community.
Young people today have such a vital role to play in evangelization. Children tend to be the most honest about what they know and don’t know, and they tend to ask some pretty tough questions when it comes to faith. All of this is great! While sharing what we know is an important part of evangelization, a missionary student is someone who looks for opportunities to demonstrate their faith. This may be through acts of service or little (hidden) actions done with great love. As the movie, Evan Almighty put it, Acts of Random Kindness. In the movie, its these little acts that lead to Evan building an ark that saves his community from a terrible flood.
Young people today have such a vital role to play in evangelization...While sharing what we know is an important part of evangelization, a missionary student is someone who looks for opportunities to demonstrate their faith.
Becoming a missionary disciple is easy. The hard part is the commitment. To be a missionary disciple, one needs to do the following three things every day:
Missionary discipleship is a call to engage others in meaningful ways that lead to deeper conversion to Christ. It also meets the important need in our church of fostering Christian fellowship and community. Though we are online much of the time these days, we can still be missionary disciples by getting involved in faith-based discussion boards, learning opportunities, and using our own social networks to share the Good News with others.