Friday, May 28, 2010

Content matters - Part III

In a previous post I wrote how “content matters” in your ministry.  This week I would like to expand our thinking to how catechesis matters.

Recently I had to take my eight year old son to Church for a catechesis session for his Confirmation.  He wondered what this “Cat of Chesis” was all about so we had a little joke that he was going to see a “cat from Chesis”.  After attending the catechesis session he said to me “it is just like a lesson at school”.  I think my son suffers a similar misconception to other Catholics who attend Catholic school; that is they believe that Catechesis is another name for religious education.  Catechesis and religious education are similar but different.  So what is Catechesis and why does content matter?

1.      Catechesis is about Jesus – “The name of catechesis is given to the whole of the efforts within the Church to make disciples, to help people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that believing they might have life in His name, and to educate and instruct them in this life and thus build up the Body of Christ.” (Catechesi Tradendae, n 1)
Whilst there is a temptation for ministers to use a Catechesis session to teach people information, the focus of catechesis should be content that draws the learner into a deeper relationship with Jesus.  The content needs to be chosen carefully so that it helps the people to explore and believe, not just be informed.

2.      Catechesis is a witness – “Catechesis is an apprenticeship of the entire Christian life which promotes an authentic following of Christ” (General Directory of Catechesis n 67).  The key to catechesis should be the interaction between the minster and the participant.  In your parish or ministry there should be some “apprenticeship” as the participant is witness to the life of the Leader.  The content of catechesis should not be driven by a curriculum (which is religious education) but by the questions the participant has.  For example at WYD the best part of the morning catechesis is the Q&A with the Bishop as it is about the questions the young people have.  When a participant wants to draw closer to Christ, they have questions that need answers yet the leader should be more of a witness than a teacher.  In catechesis the style should be “do as I do, not just what I say”.

3.      Catechesis is ongoing – can we ever profess to know everything about God?  Is there ever a time when we can say we understand the fullness of God and the Church?  It is natural for us to grow in our understanding of God but there is always more to know.  As ministry coordinators, interns, volunteers or leaders we need catechesis too.  To be involved in on going catechesis is to be continuously pursuing a deeper relationship with God.  The best witness to this is our own Bishop David who says that he still gets new insights into the scriptures every time he is involved in Lectio Divina.

What areas do you need more catechesis in?  What areas of your walk with Jesus could grow deeper by finding a suitable witness who can spend some time with you engaging in catechesis?  Please write a list of what you would like to know more about and ask for the help of someone who can “disciple” you in this process of Catechesis.

Stay tuned, next week we will look at Mission.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Content matters – Part II

In a previous post I wrote how “content matters” in your ministry.  This week I would like to expand our thinking to how evangelism matters.  Evangelisation is something that all Christians are called to do, yet how often do we associate evangelism with the “Evangelical Churches”?

Evangelisation is a role for every Christian, not a select group.  Sometimes we have an image in our head that evangelisation is for a select group in our ministry, a bit like a Special Forces Unit.  Just like the Special Forces we allocate evangelisation to this group within our ministry and hope they do a good job, but we don’t want to get involved in the dirty work ourselves.

So how can you help everyone in your ministry to see that “evangelisation matters”?  Here are three tips for developing evangelisation in your ministry

  1. Evangelisation is about Jesus“There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed.” (yes it’s Catholic, its from Evangelii Nuntiandi 22)
Evangelisation is not a form of recruiting or marketing.  When we want to grow the size of our ministry we have to ask people to join us, this is recruiting.  Evangelisation is about sharing Jesus with others so that they can enter into a deeper relationship with God.  We need to equip the people in our ministry to recruit new members but also teach them that evangelisation matters even if people never join the ministry.

  1. Evangelisation is a witness – “The fruits of evangelization are changed lives and a changed world—holiness and justice, spirituality and peace. The validity of our having accepted the Gospel does not only come from what we feel or what we know; it comes also from the way we serve others.” (Go and Make Disciples, n18) Young people are very good a spotting the difference between what you say and what you do.  When we evangelise we share God’s love with people and others need to see that our love is genuine.  Many people these days are looking for a belief system that works, something that real people are actually living.  We are to share the Good News of Jesus by the way we live our lives more than by the words we speak.

  1. Evangelisation is not optional – “An evangelization that stays inside ourselves is not an evangelisation into the Good News of Jesus Christ.” (Go and Make Disciples, n18) Evangelisation is core to who we are as Christians, if we don’t evangelise we are not being disciples.  Evangelisation is not a phase or a program; you can never predict when someone will ask you about God or why you go to church.  When people ask you about your involvement the church, rather than trying to recruit them, how about sharing a thought about Jesus with them.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15

As a practical step after reading this blog, could you prepare your testimony to help you when you evangelise?  It is helpful to know why you believe in God and why you are involved in church so that when people ask you can tell them.  Reflect on these simple questions:
  1. How did you come to know God in a deeper way?
  2. What was you life like before you got involved in ministry?
  3. How is your life better because you know God?
  4. Share something that will encourage the person you are talking to.

Next week we will look at why Catechesis matters.

Intern Island

Sometimes you have a thought stuck in your head and you just can’t get it out in a way that makes sense.  Then someone comes along with a song or an article that sums up your thoughts perfectly.  Well I been thinking and reflecting on our Internship this past week when I had this article emailed to me:

True Conversations from Intern Island: Love Your Pastor as Yourself by Darren Sutton

Whilst this article doesn’t sum up my thoughts perfectly, I thought it was so good I would link to it rather than restate the same thing.  There are two points that I would like to make before you read the article:
  1. The Senior Pastor is your Priest – the article is written by a leader in a Christian church that refers to the Senior Minister as the Senior Pastor.  In the Catholic Church the senior pastor is the Parish Priest.  Basically in our Church the Parish Priest is the boss for anyone in an employed position or Internship position.
  2. Some Interns work full time – some interns in America work daily with a senior leader as an intern for 12 months.  Their work load is greater than you would have being an Intern for 4 hours per week.  You may not have as much access to your Parish Priest as a full time intern, but the same issues apply, love your Parish Priest as you would love yourself.

I hope that you enjoy the article and find it worth while, click below to go to the article by Darren Sutton.