To help ‘evaluate’ the fruitfulness of our ministries, we first need to ask in what ways have we seen our ministries be truly missionary? Do they awaken hearts and “announce the good news to the poor, proclaim release to captives and recovery of sight to the blind; send off the oppressed with liberty” (Luke 4:18). What has been some objective evidence of this fruit in people’s lives (Mission). Secondly to ask, in what ways have we seen our ministries be more focused on a ‘consumer’ culture. Better known as just ‘activity’. To truly reflect on the above quote from Sherry Weddell, we look to see what are the parish activities that need to be reevaluated through the lens of Discipleship and Evangelization that continues to lead people into a misperception that activity creates active faith (Maintenance)?
As we have been discussing through this ‘awakening’ series, there is a real and present ‘crisis’ in our parishes and with Catholics in general. The ‘nones’ remain the fastest growing ‘religious’ group (26%) in North American with the GenX and Millennials being the highest statistic of the ‘nones’ (Pew Research, Oct 2019). These trends show us that our society and culture of secularism, narcissism and consumerism is eating away at our ‘Culture Catholic’ mindset. Many Catholics, those who sit in the pews and those who do not, struggle to find real relevance of faith for their lives and are draw away from the Catholic Church by the many temptations of our society. It is time that we truly awaken our hearts and theirs to discipleship and the mission of Christ. As we know, our call as disciples is to lead people toward Christ so they can also have a personal relationship with him. Once that relationship has been awakened, then the sacramental grace received by a baptized Christian can then be moved into an active grace one in which bears fruit in that person’s life and leads them into mission. A parish becomes missionary through this awakening. As Sherry Weddell in her book, Forming Intentional Disciples, states, “transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions for the personal encounter of individuals with Jesus Christ. This faith encounter with the person of Jesus Christ is a relationship with him, through the grace of the Spirit, having in us the mind of Jesus Christ” (pg 53).