Part Two: Creating a Discipleship Pathway
Summary of Part One: Do we need a discipleship pathway?
If you haven’t done so already, we recommend reading part one of this series, “Do we need a discipleship pathway?”. This post builds upon the concept of what a discipleship pathway is and how we can unleash this powerful tool at our parish.
A few key points: A discipleship pathway charts a course and orients the parish community around shared values and mission. The goal is to allow the process of discipleship (i.e. the pathway) to propel us on a lifelong journey of missionary discipleship – guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Now, how do we define our parish’s pathway?
What exactly is a pathway?
First and foremost, a discipleship pathway is our parish’s answer to the question: How is our community mobilized to ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’?
A pathway might be unique to our parish, or taken from the diocese and adapted to our specific context. Here at Mission Pathways, we have seen our parish partners form pathways through pastoral planning processes, their senior leadership, or ad hoc committees.
Examples from parishes:
Mary, Queen of the Apostles – Salem, MA
Welcomed and Healed > Alpha > Alpha Team > Connect and Grow > Use Your Gifts > Discipleship and Leadership with Worship
Prayer and Sacraments are at the center!
Christ the King – Ann Arbor, MI
Worship > Grow > Encounter > Serve
Examples from dioceses:
Archdiocese of Atlanta – Atlanta, GA
Till the Soil > Sow the Seed > Germination > Tend the Vine > Harvest the Fruit
Diocese of Kansas City – Saint Joseph – Kansas City, MO
Pre-Trust > Trust > Curiosity > Openness > Seeking > Decision > Beginning/Growing/Commissioned Disciple > Disiciple Maker > Spiritual Multiplier
Now for the hard part…
Many of us may feel overwhelmed and overworked in our current ministries and activities. Part of discerning a discipleship pathway is letting go of what no longer fits our mission. This may mean pausing ministries or activities for a time to focus on evangelizing and building up our community. It may also mean giving up certain things permanently.
The point is to reduce our parish’s busyness to focus on what’s important – building disciples.
Encounter: Where a path begins
We know that Jesus seeks to meet and know each person in an intimate and personal way. It follows that our initial task is to provide opportunities for parishioners to truly meet Jesus, knowing that he is the one who converts hearts.
Examples of encounter experiences include: Alpha, ChristLIFE, Awaken, The 99, and retreats like Light of the World, Christ Renews His Parish, and ACTS. We also recommend the resources available through Divine Renovation, Parish Catalyst, and many local dioceses.
Discipleship: Taking the next step
Returning to our example of the Apostles from part one of this series, in the Gospels, we see that the process of conversion doesn’t happen in an instant. Instead, God acts over time – through our cooperation and the power of the Holy Spirit – to turn often fearful and frail individuals into bold messengers of the Good News. So, what does this mean for us?
After helping our parish to encounter Jesus we need to invite parishioners and guests deeper. This includes providing opportunities for us to be equipped through the Holy Spirit, to experience God in his Word, and to come to better know, love, and serve God through volunteering and servant leadership.
It may include opportunities to learn more about our faith through educational courses and Bible studies. And/or an emphasis on small faith communities and building up the Body of Christ. We might also mention here offering opportunities to discern gifts and charisms – one of the ways we begin to understand God’s call for our lives.
Discipleship Realized: We are people on mission
The ultimate goal is creating a parish of passionate disciples actively sharing Christ – especially through the witness of God’s transforming power in our lives.
Examples of how to intentionally mobilize our communities for mission include: Sharing Christ by ChristLIFE and Encounter Ministries.
Tools for the journey
Mission Pathways is here to support your parish to evangelize and form disciples at every stage of your journey.
Not ready to develop a plan, but want to get started? Wonderful! We can help you launch and manage every aspect of your evangelization events, ministries, and groups. Each experience automatically builds a dynamic profile for your guests and parishioners and provides helpful metrics to give you the confidence to keep moving forward one step at a time.
Do you already have a discipleship path? Great! Mission Suite provides insight into where every person is on the path, and where the parish is as a whole en route to living your goals of becoming a mission-oriented community.
We’re here to serve you, to make sure no one falls through the cracks, and to encourage your progress on the path to building thriving, joyful communities in Christ.