From Sherry Weddell...
It’s simple. If you set out to build a “Cathedral of Disciples” across an entire small to mid size American diocese, what would you do?
If your goal was making disciples at every age - womb to tomb – and to create a normative culture of intentional discipleship in every parish, every school, every Catholic institution in a generic, middle of the road, no special anything diocese . . .
And - believe it or not - money was no object . . .
Where would you begin? What would a creative and reality-based, effective, scalable approach to fostering a diocesan-wide culture of making disciples look like?
Steps I would take
1 Implement a homily model that Rebuild uses- one homilist per weekend, and have all of those homilies be kerygmatic proclamation.
2. Build up a team of intercessors for every parish, contact every religious cloister on earth and start the flood of prayers for repentance and conversion.
3. Spend time at each parish, school, and organization doing intensive discernment: charisms of leaders, charism/uniqueness of each organization, demographics of the ministry field, etc.
4. Create clear, specific, functional and inspirational MISSION and VISION statements that focus on evangelization and specifically repentance and conversion. This is the beginning of the revolution. If we set the priority on evangelization and conversion we can actually empower our people to ignore or reject events, classes, talks, things that do not match up with that mission. (Mission gives Permission to say NO.)
5. Once you got the MISSION, then you start the AUDITING process. Every Catholic school and parish combs through each book to make sure the kerygma, Scripture and the Person(ality) of Jesus Christ is front and center. Exposure to Scripture (study and prayer) needs to be the highest priority, especially the Gospels.
6. Money being no object, either get with the publishers or start producing yourself books and supplemental materials for each grade level and season of life that have the type of content mentioned in #5.
7. Mission, then Materials, now People. Every teacher of religion, theology, catechism, etc. needs to be a disciple. Summer time is key to do catechist training that focuses on mission and vision, which is personal conversion to Christ Jesus. So we need to make sure they have a personal conversion to Christ Jesus. Retreat experiences and Catholic spirituality classes need to happen to walk them through the thresholds, if they are not intentional disciples already.
8. Examine alternate methods of teaching. Should the Elementary kids be in a classroom or something like Wamba Land at North Point (big, youth ministry style learning)?
9. Create small group ministry with the adults of the parish. Focus on kerygma. Scrap all Adult Faith Formation programs that have nothing to do with Wining people to Christ and make those types of classes the only things offered for a time. Small Group coincides with homilies to build up a coherent, consistent message that gathers momentum.
10. Examine and narrow focus of Service/Social Justice ministries. Make sure your food bank is also a touchstone for evangelization. Make sure that Jesus makes the difference between your work and some godless NGO. Try your best to take the emphasis off of anonymous donations and create opportunities for personal giving. Group those service organizations in a region to tackle one specific problem in that region and destroy it, like child hunger or domestic abuse. Pour on the love, money, attention, volunteers for a sustained, long-haul approach.
11. Then make sure your Faith Formation/RE/Small Groups are directly invested in the Service/Social Justice ministries. Fight like hell to prevent two different groups from doing these two different ministries. Make sure the fancy Faith Formation people are serving, or else they will feel holy without being holy. Make sure the Service people are maturing in faith, or else their work empties the cross of its power.
12. Set up Retreats intentionally at the parishes to focus on Winning, like the famed Evangelization Retreats from Boise. Labor to connect the retreats back into the life of the parish- whether that is "Starting Point" small groups for newbies, RCIA classes, or ministries that will help them grow in Christian charity. Also, for those evangelized, set up retreats that are ordered towards spiritual maturity- Ignatian silent retreats, Born in the Spirit retreats, etc. The goal is deeper conversion.
13. Hold well-run conferences throughout the diocese for Business men and women, for Apologetics, for Spiritual growth, for special topics. This will make it easier to access for busy schedules and will be a touchstone for continual renewal.
14. Nap. Nap long and deep.
15. Then pour all your energies from the homily into the liturgy as a whole, fostering a Eucharistic spirituality and a growing awareness of the importance of corporate worship.