We’re starting our Lawn Chair Catechism! The first post is up over at CatholicMom.com, and I’m joining the discussion here.

Though the Introduction of Forming Intentional Disciples is only a few pages long, I’m hooked.

We learned that there is a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon between the Church’s sophisticated theology of the lay apostolate and the lived spiritual experience of the majority of our people. And this chasm has a name: discipleship. We learned that the majority of even “active” American Catholics are still at an early, essentially passive stage of spiritual development. We learned that our first need at the parish level isn’t catechetical. Rather, our fundamental problem is that most of our people are not yet disciples. They will never be apostles until they have begun to follow Jesus Christ in the midst of his Church

Yes. Yes, this is true. In fact, it’s true for ME.

Becoming a fervent following of Christ is…well, it ain’t easy and it sure ain’t popular. It means not only knowing the teaching but living the teaching. It means walking the walk.

And, now that this need has a name, I can’t help but put on my “parish employee” hat and think of ways to apply it.

So often, within our parish setting, the best solutions are the simple ones. And—and this is harrrrd for me—they take time.

Engagement needs a smaller group. We found this when our parish started a Ministry of Mothers Sharing (MOMS) series. Suddenly, we had people who had never been involved stepping up, volunteering, being active.

They had a reason to be involved. They had heard the needs on a personal level. They saw how they could make a difference.

I truly believe that small group engagement is critical for parish life. That said, pulling it off is messy and time-consuming. (Oh wait, that might be true of nearly everything in a family…or a parish!)

Weddell writes,

If live at the parish level changes, the life of the whole Church will change.

It’s great that we have a pope who has captured the public eye. It’s great that our bishop is someone we admire. But until we engage and dive in within the (un)comfortable boundaries of our own parish family, we can’t effect real change. Until we offer our vulnerabilities and talents and selves to the people we see every week at Mass, we won’t be discipling.

I have a long way to go. And I can’t wait to see what it means that “God Has No Grandchildren” (the next chapter in the book).

Join the discussion over at CatholicMom.com! There’s a summary (you don’t have to read the book to participate!) and some great questions to get you started.