How to Identify Disciples and Missionary Disciples
The Office for Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship and its sectors focus on the ministry of renewal and inspiring missionary disciples who will help to support, build bonds and transform their parishes and broader communities as they encounter and deepen their own relationships with Christ. The question then becomes, who are these Disciples and Missionary Disciples in the parish? A disciple is someone who has encountered Jesus, heard the Good News of his life, death and resurrection, and chooses to actively follow him. A missionary disciple is one who continues to grow in relationship with God, can easily share his or her relationship with God with others and goes outward to help others find God for themselves.
These are the interior characteristics of these disciples and missionary disciples in our midst:
- Loves God and his Church
- Has knowledge and love of the Scriptures
- Is evangelistically bold
- Grounded in the teachings of the Church to stay in relationship with it
- Has a life in which the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit are evident
- Is open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit
- Has a heart for the lost: evangelizes because he/she wants people to know Jesus
- Has a personal relationship with Jesus
- Celebrates the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist
- Open to growth/critique
- Sees his or her life as a mission field
- Has a heart of a servant Is a witness to the faith
- Has a spirit of detachment
- Seeks to do God’s will through discernment and asceticism
- Trusts in God
- Has integrity
- Extraordinary love for people
- Works towards holiness
- Knows he/she is loved
- Knows he/she is forgiven
Many of the above characteristics are hard to recognize in persons. Many of them are interior qualities that are not known to outside observers. For example “sees his or her life as a mission field.” How can we see this? We really can’t. It is something interiorly known only to the person unless he or she makes it known to others. There are certain things we can, however, look for when we try to identify a disciple and a missionary disciple. These characteristics are more exteriorly focused and observable.
HOW TO IDENTIFY A:
|Has a consistent, daily time of personal prayer||Can share about specific insights he/she receives in prayer|
|Can pray spontaneously out loud when asked||Prays with the community and teaches the community how to pray|
|Joyful||Team members who are joyful mentors to returning Catholics|
|Willingness to share one’s own spiritual journey||Goes out and shares with others what he/she has learned to proclaim the good news|
|Ability to articulate how Jesus changed one’s life||Is comfortable sharing with others how Jesus changed his/her life|
|Reading Scripture is an important part of his/her spiritual growth||Knowledge to share the Gospel message|
|Curious about the teachings of the church||Knows when it is appropriate to share the teachings of the Church|
|Ability to empathize||Gets involved in the daily life of people|
|Has a commitment to Sunday Eucharist||Spends time in the world and nourishes self with the Eucharist|
|Experiences real Christian community||Invites and encourages others to invite people to participate in the parish life of the community|
|Celebrates the Sacrament of Reconciliation||Celebrates the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly|
|Offers a sense of belonging to all (welcoming, hospitable, inclusive)||Knows how to listen and accompany|
|Knows how to preach||Boldness or courage- stands up and preaches the Good News|
|Shares his/her love for God through his/her actions (volunteers with the poor, brings snacks to an event, etc.)||They want to make the world a better place|
|Wants to use their skills and talents for God||Willing to put it all on the line for the greater glory of God|
|Is loving||Is loving|
|Freely serves without expecting anything in return||Freely serves without expecting anything in return|
"About Us." About Us - Parish Vitality and Mission. Accessed April 06, 2018. https://pvm.archchicago.org/evangelization/about-us
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. "Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization." Disciples Called to Witness. 2012. Accessed 2018. http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/disciples-called-to-witness/upload/Disciples-Called-to-Witness-5-30-12.pdf.
Mallon, Fr. James. Divine Renovation Guidebook: A Step-by-Step Manual for Transforming Your Parish. New London, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 2016. Page 159
"10 Qualities of a Disciple." Victory World Church. Accessed April 06, 2018. https://victoryatl.com/10qualities/.
“What Is a Missionary Disciple? | "The 9"." YouTube. February 04, 2017. Accessed April 06, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoDNiKM7zFk.
"Missionary Disciple"?" Be Missionary Disciples. Accessed April 06, 2018. https://bemissionarydisciples.org/mission/what-is-a-missionary-disciple/. As well as: USCCB, O.E.M.D., Wuerl, His Eminence Donald Cardinal. "The Radical Call of Missionary Discipleship: Context and Characteristics of Missionary Disciples." Archdiocese of Washington. Accessed April 6, 2018. http://adw.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/070217-Radical-Call-of-Missionary-Disciples-USCCB-Convocation.pdf.
"The Modern Missionary Disciple." Adore Ministries. Accessed April 06, 2018. https://adoreministries.com/missionary-disciples/.
"Follow Me: 8 Qualities of a True Disciple of Christ"." C Bar N Mission. Accessed April 09, 2018. http://cbarnmission.org/resources/follow-me-8-qualities-of-a-true-disciple-of-christ/?_sm_byp=iVVSHK2MFRMnqFKM. Cheyney, Tom, Gerald Colbert, Les Dobbins, Randy Ferguson, and Steve Reid. The Character of a Missionary: Why Focus on the Fruit of the Spirit? Alpharetta, Georgia: North American Mission Board, 2008.
Lubov, Deborah Castellano. "Pope's Morning Homily: Gives 3 Characteristics of True Christian Witness." ZENIT – English. June 11, 2015. Accessed April 09, 2018. https://zenit.org/articles/pope-s-morning-homily-gives-3-characteristics-of-true-christian-witness/.
"10 Characteristics of a Missionary." YWAM Lausanne. November 21, 2017. Accessed April 09, 2018. https://www.ywamlausanne.com/dts/10-characteristics-missionary/.