So, you are ready to launch an evangelization effort?

So, you are ready to launch an evangelization effort?

Ready to Explore How Evangelization Can Work at Your Parish?

One of the key characteristics of an inviting parish is: “Our parish leaders and members regularly and consistently invite new members to be part of the community and offers planned, regular evangelistic retreats and/or programs.”

There seems to be an increasing interest across the Diocese to pursue this particular aspect of our Stewardship pillars and several have asked the Office of Stewardship for more information on possible ways a community can develop an evangelization “program.”

In response, I have compiled some basic information on three approaches.  There are many other options a parish could explore, but these three are currently being used or have been used by people in our Diocese. This offers the advantage of having someone close by who can advise and assist anyone else who chooses the same approach.  If you have expertise in another approach and would like to share it with others, please post information in the comments section below.

1 – For those who complete all three parts of ChristLife, strong relationships are developed and fostered, the more time people spend, the deeper the relationships.

2- The CCO option is not a “program in a box” like the other two.  So, the training and support and development would need to be coordinated.  However, Carole is willing to assist in this process.

1. ALPHA

ALPHA was developed in 1990 at an Anglican Church in London.  Since that time, ALPHA has been translated into 112 languages and has been offered in over 100 countries.  They describe it as, “a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over eleven weeks. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation.” Sessions include a video, small group discussion and a meal.

ALPHA has developed high-quality, professional and engaging videos.  They have included many very powerful testimonies.  AlphaUSA offers online training and extensive support for the parish, including a regional representative who is available to answer questions and can come to your parish to provide training.  Over the 11 weeks, basic questions about Christianity are answered including:

  • Who is Jesus?

  • Why did He die?

  • Should I read the Bible?

  • How do you pray?

ALPHA is used by many different denominations and is not explicitly Catholic.  It is also just an introduction to Christianity, so a parish using ALPHA should also have a plan in place for participants who’s faith is awakened by ALPHA and want to continue to journey towards dedicated discipleship.

Last year, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help launched the ALPHA program and Brett Eckert, Director of Evangelization at OLPH, is happy to answer any questions you might have about how ALPHA is being used at the Cathedral.  He can be contacted at: 605-342-0507 or at brett@cathedralolph.org.  To explore ALPHA online, go to:  https://alphausa.org/about

 

2. ChristLife

ChristLife was begun in 1995 as an apostolate in Archdiocese of Baltimore to respond to the call for the New Evangelization.  Initially, ChristLife served as the USA training office for the ALPHA program but in 2007 shifted its focus and developed a 3-part series for evangelization:  Discovering Christ, Following Christ, Sharing Christ.  Each part in the series includes 7 sessions.  Like ALPHA, materials include participant materials, videos and leader training and support.  Also like Alpha, ChristLife sessions include a meal.

 

 

ChristLife offers training in Baltimore as well as online video training and phone support.  It has the advantages of being distinctly Catholic and of answering the basic questions covered in ALPHA as well as two follow-up programs that assist parishes in leading participants to dedicated discipleship.

Our Lady of the Black Hills in Piedmont will launch their third year of ChristLife this fall.  Joni Osnes, Adult Faith Formation Director for the parish is more than happy to visit with you about the program and how it has worked at OLBH.  You can reach her at:  605-787-5168 or at joni.osnes@olbh.org.  Or read about her experience here. To explore ChristLife online, go to:  https://christlife.org/about/

 

3. CCO Discipleship

Dr. Carole Brown, Director of the Sioux Spiritual Center in Howes, SD, developed an evangelization program while Director of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.  In addition to using materials from Catholic Christian Outreach, she developed leader training and a parish process for evangelization. Below is a video which highlights her efforts.

 

 

If you would like to explore the CCO faith study series for small groups online, please go to: https://cco.ca/faith-studies-series. CCO will also offer you advice and support as you create an evangelization process for your parish. You can learn more here: https://cco.ca/parish

If you would like to visit more with Carole, she can be reached at:  605-985-5906 or at: cbrown@diorc.org.

No matter what program you chose, I would encourage you to take a minute to read Carole’s 7 Tips for Making Multiplying Discipleship Actually Work At Your Parish. In it are important tips for any parish choosing to focus on “Making Disciples.”

 

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

14 + 5 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

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VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418
7 Tips for Making Multiplying Discipleship Actually Work at your parish

7 Tips for Making Multiplying Discipleship Actually Work at your parish

7 Tips for Making Multiplying Discipleship Actually Work at your parish

1) Get the right leaders

At St. John Nepomuk, a male and female leader who were already deeply personally committed to Jesus Christ went through the process themselves, and agreed to give focused leadership to it.  They are both well established in the parish, and they are the “drivers” of the process.

2) Get those leaders to prioritize this effort

The leaders for your discipleship process cannot be those people who are also doing a million other things in the parish. They need to be good fits for the ministry and in love with Christ, but they cannot be already over-committed at the parish. This needs to be their main apostolate…which may mean they need to be relieved of other responsibilities that could usefully be done by someone else.  (I like to say, “I’m asking you to discern a call from God on this to make this your main thing.”)

3) Manage the parish’s expectations

It’s important to manage expectations around multiplying discipleship because it works differently from most other things in the parish.  Unlike most other “programs”, this is not something you are going to put a note in the bulletin about, or do a signup table for–at least not for a few cycles.  Sometimes people get agitated and say things like, “Why is this not for everyone? How come I wasn’t invited?” You have to be willing and able to manage those expectations by communicating clearly about what these groups are about and how they differ slightly from your normal parish Bible study or Lenten small groups.

4) Meet off-site

The groups at St. John Nepomuk met in people’s homes, not at the church.  This allows for a little cozier environment more conducive to sharing your life.  We also advised the hosts to keep it simple.  Don’t plan a gourmet spread.  Put out a pitcher of ice water and leave it at that.  The more drama there is around hospitality, the less people will want to run their own groups.  

5) Begin by filling groups with potential leaders

For the first few cycles—and by that I mean “years” because this process takes about a year—you are prayerfully and carefully choosing people who have the ability to lead others.  There’s an actual Scriptural principle behind this from 2 Timothy 2:2. St. Paul writes to Timothy, “What you have heard from me through many witnesses, entrust to faithful people who will be able to lead others as well.”

There are…what…5 sets of people indicated in this verse who are going to be responsible for launching this big chain reaction, and it’s so key to make sure that we are raising up “faithful people who can lead others.” It is a little counter-intuitive to the way we usually think of evangelization.  Usually we don’t think of starting with people who are already faithful—but in this situation that’s exactly who you want to get into shape for helping develop the culture of discipleship.  

6) Start with a manageable commitment for your leaders

Sometimes it’s hard to get people to commit to a whole year up front.  At St. John Nepomuk, they identified 25 people and invited them to a dinner.  I came and gave a spiel, and then the folks were asked just to commit to the first 6 week Catholic Christian Outreach (cco.ca) series, Discovery.  6 weeks. That’s all. However—and this is another thing that’s a bit different—they are asked to commit to ALL six weeks.  Can’t even miss one, and if they do, the leader is prepared to do a makeup session with them.  That’s a little different for Catholics, because they are used to being able to drop in and drop out.  Now—to be honest—in this case—by the time they got through Discovery, they were hooked.

7) Don’t skip the 1-on-1s!

The CCO series that we use for our groups has a built in 1-on-1 component.  The group leader met with each member of their groups after each six-week session, and followed the outline in the book to help lead the conversation. 

It’s amazing what comes up in these 1-on-1s, things with which people have been quietly wrestling with and sometimes need some real help.  Now, keep in mind, these can’t be spiritual direction, just a little opportunity for some personalized mentoring.  This is an excellent method of doing the kind of spiritual “accompaniment” that is so needed in our times.

It can be tempting to skip these individualized meetings because of the time commitment, but I can’t encourage you enough—make time for the 1-on-1. A good tip is to make the occasion for meeting something enjoyable. Get a coffee. Walk around the lake. 

One last thing that is worth mentioning about this particular parish’s tactics. This is not a hard and fast rule, and, in fact, I personally am mentoring a mixed gender group, but—at St. John Nepomuk, they decided to do men’s groups and women’s groups, rather than mixed groups.  One of the advantages of this is that it takes care of the childcare issue. Couples do not both need to be at a meeting at the same time.  Also, often men and women share very differently.  Sometimes, men can say in 45 minutes what women need a full 90 minutes to say.  Again, not a hard and fast rule, but something to consider.

Conclusion

If you will allow me to do a little math for a second to show the impact of this process at St. John Nepomuk, one of the numbers that’s been thrown out there as a kind of general gauge is that about 5-7% of people in the parish are living their discipleship in an intentional way.  One of the strategic benchmarks that Sherry Weddell and others have proposed is to try to double the number of intentional disciples at a parish in 5 years:  “Double in 5.”  So in other words—in 5 years, try to raise the percentage of IDs at a parish up to 10-14% of adults who have been through a process designed to form them as intentional disciples.  The theory is that if you can get to 20%, you have a de-facto culture change going on.

Well, guess what?  If you can get multiplying discipleship going in your parish, you can not only double in 5, you can even get to 20%.  Let’s do the math.

We estimated that about 800 of the 1200 registered families in this parish are participating regularly.  We ballparked, therefore, about 1400 adults active in this parish.

In their 4th generation, about 300 adults have either completed the process or are in it currently.  That’s 21% of the active adults.

Now, it’s time to start going after the inactive ones. God has only just begun!

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

8 + 8 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418
ChristLife at OLBH

ChristLife at OLBH

ChristLife at OLBH

by Joni Osnes, Adult Faith Formation Coordinator, Our Lady of the Black Hills

In 2016 Bishop Gruss addressed the people of the Diocese of Rapid City with his pastoral letter entitled Through Him, With Him, and in Him.  The bishop expressed his desire for this diocese to become a diocese with a real mission.  For this vision to become a reality, he felt it was important to develop a priority plan for the diocese.  Bishop Gruss invited us to engage and embrace the Diocesan Priority Plan so that, as our Sacred Mission states, we can “attract and form intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly, and lovingly proclaim and live the mission of Jesus Christ, leading to eternal life.”

As the Adult Faith Formation Coordinator at Our Lady of the Black Hills and in response to Bishop Gruss’ challenge, I began researching programs and processes that were available so that we could form these intentional disciples.  In many ways, I think the Holy Spirit was prompting me to choose a process called ChristLife, an evangelization process that began in Archdiocese of Baltimore in the 1990s.  Specifically, when my husband John retired in April 2017, we planned a trip to celebrate.  I discovered that we would be in the Baltimore area precisely when the National Training Conference for ChristLife was scheduled.  This was a process I had looked at a year before and thought might be a good fit for our parish.  We registered and attended and came from that conference with excitement and resolve to get that process going.  We were encouraged by the other participants of the conference who had experience with this process.

ChristLife is an evangelization process with three seven-week sessions: Discovering Christ, Following Christ, and Sharing Christ. Each session includes a one-day retreat. “ChristLife equips Catholics for the essential work of evangelization so others might personally encounter Jesus and be transformed into his missionary disciples.”

In the first seven weeks, Discovering Christ encourages personal conversion and encounters with Christ.  This session is a place where Catholics can bring friends, family and acquaintances, who are searching for the meaning of life to encounter Jesus Christ.  It is a time of prayer through word and song, sharing a meal, building community, and sharing the Good News. After the fourth session participants are asked to make a personal commitment to become a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ.  At Our Lady of the Black Hills we launched Discovering Christ in September 2017 and finished just before Thanksgiving.  Twenty-one participants completed the first seven sessions.

In the second seven-week session, Following Christ, participants who had experienced the joys of a personal relationship with Jesus and with each other were supported and encouraged to continue growing with Christ and with each other.  Following Christ is a basic course in Catholic discipleship that includes topics such as: daily prayer, Sacred Scripture, the power of the sacraments, forgiveness, the Spirit-empowered life, spiritual warfare, and advancing the Church’s mission. This session was started after Christmas and concluded at the end of February. One participant remarked how she felt released from heaviness and anger when the group did a prayer experience on forgiveness.

Finally, the third seven-week session called Sharing Christ began the first week after Easter.  I have found that Catholics are intimidated by the word “evangelize.”  I know that I had never been trained on how I could share my faith in Jesus Christ with others.  Sharing Christ is designed to equip Catholics with the practical skills to proclaim the Gospel, draw others into a relationship with Jesus, and invite them to discipleship as Baptized members of the Church.

As we began this seven-week session, participants were encouraged to write and to share their witness stories.  It was amazing to hear how participants were becoming more aware of Christ’s presence in their lives.  The personal witness and testimony of Christ working in their lives that were shared during this time served to encourage all who attended to share their stories with others.  One participant shared how God was working to enrich her marriage.

I have found that I must share the Good News with others because it is not an option.  In His last words to His disciples, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…”   I can no longer claim to be an introvert and that talking to others is hard; by my Baptism, I am called to evangelize, to share the Good News.

This first group of ChristLife participants will be invited to share what they have experienced when the series will be offered to all parish members this fall.  The teachings of Sharing Christ serve to help participants move from being “consumers” to “providers” of the ChristLife series.

John and I heard it may take two or three cycles of the ChristLife series to see the changes in our parish.  We were reminded this is the Lord’s initiative and that He is going to help us find ways to be an evangelizing community. We began this process asking persons to pray for the ChristLife process, and we are confident those prayers are being answered.

written May, 2018

 

 

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Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

10 + 12 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418
Generous Hospitality that transforms

Generous Hospitality that transforms

“Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, ‘Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don’t give your care, but give your heart as well.’ Living the Gospel is not simply about providing a service to people in need but about a quality of being. Hospitality is not just about opening our doors but opening our very souls.”

Rev. Mark Suslenko
LPi Connect! Sunday Reflection

Over the past five years, at the Diocesan level and at the parish level, we have done many good things to build a culture of Generous Hospitality.  We have had name tag Sundays, hospitality events, invited people to take up the gifts, given away books during the holidays, bought umbrellas and walked people to their cars on a rainy morning, stood outside the church to greet people and noticed that visitors had trouble finding the parking lot to the church, and many other things.  This activity and this focus on hospitality has been good.  It has made a difference in the lives of our people.  

But as I reflect on this coming Sunday’s readings, which focus on hospitality, I am challenged by them and by the quote above from Fr. Suslenko.  As good as these activities are, they aren’t all that the Lord is asking of us when it comes to practicing Generous Hospitality.  As Fr. Suslenko and Mother Teresa say, generous hospitality requires us to give our hearts to another.  In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus is teaching something about how we can do this.  The story is a familiar one — Jesus is visiting the home of his friends, Mary and Martha.  Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus and Martha complains, saying, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?  Tell her to help me.” 

For many years, I viewed this reading as an admonishment to Martha and to us, to be less “human doings” and more “human beings”; a challenge to take time each day to be with the Lord and to value that time above the activity of our lives.  I hear people say, “I am a Martha and not a Mary,”  and thinking themselves less for that.  However, I don’t believe we receive the full measure of the gift of this Gospel story if we persist in seeing it as an either/or — either I am Martha or I am Mary.  I believe there are no effective “Marthas” that are not first “Marys”.  In the same way, every “Mary”, who is genuinely open to the Word of the Lord in prayer, will be asked by Him to enter into the work of His vineyard and will be a “Martha”.  As is so often true in the richness of Catholicism, the deeper truth is that it is a both/and; we are called to be both “Marys” who first receive from the Lord and then to be “Marthas” who are sent into the world to serve. 

Looking at it in this way allows us to do as Mother Teresa asks; to give not just our service, but our hearts as well.  In the quiet of prayer, our hearts can be filled with God who is Love (cf. 1 John 4:8), and in its fullness our hearts will open in compassion to those we serve.  As a consequence, they will receive not just an action, but will experience the incredible love God has for them.  Our actions become a conduit for His love in the world.  This is a Generous Hospitality that has the power to transform the lives of those that receive it. This is the Generous Hospitality that Bishop Gruss envisioned when he gave us our framework for Stewardship.

Let’s continue to strive, through prayer, to prepare our hearts to receive these “holiest of objects” in every situation and place we find ourselves and thus practice a hospitality that transforms.

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

9 + 3 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418
Summer Hospitality Tips

Summer Hospitality Tips

Summer Hospitality Tips

 

It seems that summer is finally making its way to Western South Dakota. For many in our Diocese, summer means the arrival of out-of-town guests and tourists to our homes and churches.  I was reminded of the young woman from Bismarck who came to Girls Totus Tuus Camp last year because of the warm welcome she and her family received at Blessed Sacrament in Rapid City while here visiting.  And I also remember the story told by Ruth Durst of St. Ambrose’s in Deadwood.  As part of their efforts to increase hospitality, they decided to have hospitality ministers stand outside on the steps of the church when the weather was good.  This proved to be very enlightening.  Parishioners watched as tourists drove around and around trying to find parking near the church. As it turns out, most visitors had no idea the church has a parking lot.  It seemed clear that better signage was needed.

 

Interested in taking a quick pulse of hospitality in your parish?

As you might remember, the Office of Stewardship is working to update our web pages.  In the course of looking over all that had been previously uploaded to our page, I found notes from a workshop at the 2016 International Stewardship Conference titled, “Parish Hospitality:  Much More Than Greeters At the Church Door”.  It is full of suggestions including:

  • Tips for the Front Office
  • Ways of Welcoming New Parishioners
  • Ways of Building a Sense of Belonging
  • 15-Point Checklist for Hospitality
  • Rewards of Generous Hospitality

If you would like to use this resource, you may download it here.

If you are interested in pursuing Generous Hospitality in a more intentional way, consider entering the Stewardship Parish process.  The Office of Stewardship is happy to guide you and provide support at each stage.  Please give us a call if you would like to learn more.

 

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

5 + 11 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418