A parishioner at St. Mary’s in Westphalia, Craig Pohl serves as the director of New Evangelization for the Diocese of Lansing. Over the next few months, he is leading the charge to introduce four aspects of discipleship into Catholics’ everyday lives to help them grow in holiness for the work of the New Evangelization.
What makes the four aspects of discipleship – prayer, study, community and service/evangelization – so critical to our role as Catholics? Beginning with prayer, every intentional disciple has a relationship with Christ, not just on Sundays but every day. Really effective evangelists and followers of Christ have a prayer life every day. They have a time they set aside for the Lord to just pour their hearts out to him. That’s the first and most important component.
The research I’ve done shows that every organization in the Church that focuses on helping people grow in their walk with the Lord has a lifelong study of the faith as a central component. Disciples learn their faith constantly, through books, CDs, DVDs, movies, lectures.
There is an important connection between study and prayer – the more you get to know your faith, the more you fall in love with it. The more you fall in love with it, the more you want to know about it.
Every disciple is then called to a community, to build relationships with fellow believers and to support one another in the ways of holiness and the mission of Christ.
Christ says loving our neighbor is one of the two greatest commandments, but, practically speaking, we need one another. We need to support each other and really grow together.
And finally, with service and evangelization, one of the ideas that has really been proven throughout history is that when we put ourselves out there to serve others, God supplies the grace we may not have had before to meet the need in the moment.
It’s through service and evangelization that many people experience the most growth in their spiritual lives; it is growth we simply cannot experience in any other way. God has given each of us our own “mission field,” and each day we can choose to respond to his promptings, while being confident that he will supply us with all we need in the moment.
What is the goal of bringing these four aspects of discipleship into our Catholic communities? As the director of New Evangelization for the diocese, I am acutely aware of the fact that true and lasting evangelization only can be done effectively through committed disciples. The Holy Spirit is the primary agent of evangelization. Therefore, the more open our lives are to the work of the Holy Spirit, the more fruitful our evangelization will be. True evangelization depends on intentional disciples.
How will you implement this discipleship across the diocese? There are many steps, but right now we’re creating a little booklet, called the Lifetime Discipleship Plan. It has recommendations for people on how they might plot a course for their spiritual lives. As we know, having a plan is important whenever we try to get from one point to the next. Although many of us don’t actually take the time to sit down and map our spiritual course, we do this type of planning with almost everything else in our lives. It’s vital to the success of our evangelization efforts that each of us first maps a plan for growing in holiness.
Director of New Evangelization: Craig Pohl