The statistics in the first chapter alone are enough to keep you thinking about what you thought you knew about the Church. Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus by Sherry A. Weddell is a phenomenal book. Twelve chapters packed with data, facts, personal stories and practical answers to difficult questions. My favorite chapter is four, “Grace and the Great Quest” where Weddell articulates so beautifully similar thoughts I have had through the years about the sacraments, in particular, confirmation. One quote, which I would like to send to everyone preparing for a sacrament, “In any case, simply going through the motions to please others is not enough for fruitful reception.”
Throughout the book we are reminded that to form disciples we must reach our adults and that many who come to Mass and participate in the parish are often no more a disciple than a twice a year Mass goer. We are challenged to “expect and plan for conversion and the fruit of conversion” in our parishes. As a parish catechetical leader, it is good to read in print what you see happening around you. For instance, younger people are not attending Mass or getting married in the Church; therefore “we can no longer depend upon rites of passage or cultural, peer, or familial pressure to bring the majority back.”
Clearly something needs to be done. Besides prayer, we must engage the people in the pews and move from there. We can no longer think young people will return for the sacraments when they have children. And we can’t think that if we catechize more, or better, or longer it will have an impact. Weddell answers the “what to do” questions, laying out the Thresholds of Conversion, explaining how to tell the story of Jesus (which is different/separate from the Church) and gives concrete examples of how using these ideas can work.
If you want to evangelize or you work in a parish or diocese in any capacity at all, get a copy of this book and use it. I know I will be asking this question, “Can you describe your relationship with God to this point in your life?” this week at work.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Forming Intentional Disciples: Path to Knowing and Following Jesus. The Catholic Company is the best resource for gifts for every Sacrament celebration, such as First Communion gifts and Baptism gifts, as well as a great selection of limited-time Year of Faith gifts and resources.