Even though I’ve used it in other presentations, there is one slide I wish I would have included in my presentation to the seminarians last week about parish evangelization.
St. Paul is giving this new pastor, Timothy, advice on the strategy for spreading the Word of God and building up the body of Christ. In this one verse Paul clearly highlights that the primary role of a pastor is not to do everything himself, but to equip others in the task of evangelization and discipleship. Based on St. Paul’s pastoral theology here, the clergy’s critical task becomes leadership formation (developing more shepherds and coaches of these shepherds).
The verse is essentially the thesis statement of my entire presentation. I think the seminarians got the point, but maybe I missed the chance to ground it in scripture for them. In my reflections since the presentation, it’s also given me clarity about what we’ll continue to emphasize in the coming months and years. Already we believe that Alpha is a great tool not only to help people experience conversion, but it also is a way to identify, equip, and empower leaders. We are also currently reaching out to and inviting parishioners to be trained as small group leaders.
This strategy also hit home recently when I participated in the Archdiocese’s podcast called the EquipCast, which I help out with from time to time. We interviewed a gentleman who wrote an article about the lay apostolate. I want to share a quote from that article, which I shared with the seminarians as well.
Parish ministry must be highly focused on forming and equipping parishioners to be highly apostolic contemplatives in the middle of the world: aspiring “canonizeable saints” who have as their life mission the sanctification of the temporal order, which includes their families, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, their professional work, civic duties, and every setting in which they find themselves. (Peter Andrastek, Where does Ministry End and the Apostolate Begin?)
This will also be our focus. While Alpha had a small response this winter, we should begin preparing ourselves for an abundant harvest when we kick it off again in early September. However, the harvest needs laborers. We can begin equipping ourselves as laborers of the harvest by joining or leading a small group this Lent. If you’re interested in learning more, call Theresa Gunia at the St. Thomas More parish office (402) 556-1456 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.