A Tool for Evangelization
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus tells his disciples to “Go, and make disciples of all nations,” how did Christ himself, the master discipler, make disciples? We know from Scripture that Jesus had 70 followers, 12 Apostles, and 3 of those Apostles had a particular closeness to Christ. It’s clear that Jesus accompanied these individuals, forming them to think, act, and live as His disciples. The General Directory for Catechesis states, “Faith involves a change of life, a "metanoia," that is a profound transformation of mind and heart; it causes the believer to live that conversion (GDC, 55).” Jesus brought about this conversion in his disciples in such a way that they too were able to accompany others and form them to be his disciples as well. The simple approach of Christ himself gives us a glimpse into how to fulfill his command from Matthew 28 and make disciples who are able make disciples.
As Jesus’ disciples formed others to be disciples of Christ, a “ripple effect” began to emerge: His disciples began making disciples that made disciples who made disciples, and so on. This “ripple effect” is what allowed for the Church to grow to what it is today. Not because of a mere program, resource, or isolated activity, but because disciples are involved in the lives of others, witnessing the love of Christ and helping others integrate faith into daily life. We ought to look to this “ripple effect” for the way to make disciple-makers.
Our Office has put together a “mission essentials” tool for parishes and individuals that articulates the heart of this simple process. It’s a model of evangelization that helps those who use it align their efforts around making disciples, keeping the mission of Christ in clear view.
Mission Essentials Circle
Breakdown of the Circle
Heart to Heart
Receiving Jesus' Heart
First and foremost, any individual or ministry needs to be focused on growing in holiness and continually seeking conversion to Christ. This only comes through a committed and lived relationship with Jesus, in the heart of the Church.
- “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since 'no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord'.” | Pope Franics, Evangelii Gaudium, 3
Person to Person
Having Jesus' Heart
Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We’re invited to disciple others by helping them integrate faith into their daily lives, not with programs, but person to person. The witness of faith lived out daily enters into the lives of others and makes faith tangible.
- “The Church does not engage in proselytism. Instead, she grows by “attraction”: just as Christ “draws all to himself” by the power of his love, culminating in the sacrifice of the Cross, so the Church fulfils her mission to the extent that, in union with Christ, she accomplishes every one of her works in spiritual and practical imitation of the love of her Lord.” | Pope Benedict XVI, Homily on May 13, 2007
Communion to Commission
Accompanying others in faith must be intentional because Jesus was. He called his disciples to himself, formed them in the ways of how to follow him well, and then sent them into the world to make more disciples, passing on to those disciples Christ’s vision to reach all people. This intentional approach brings others into deep communion with Christ and the Church, while also commissioning others out to call, form, and send disciples themselves.
- “...the person who has been evangelized goes on to evangelize others. Here lies the test of truth, the touchstone of evangelization: it is unthinkable that a person should accept the Word and give himself to the kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn.” | Evangelii Nuntiandi, 24
- “To evangelize means to acquaint men with Jesus as we come to know him through the Gospels. To evangelize is to introduce men into a communion of life with him as well as into the fellowship of disciples, the community that journeys with him.” | Cardinal Ratzinger, Gospel, Catechesis, 53