Part 28: Disciple maker: Who me?

Friday, April 15, 2016 - Updated: 7:00 am
By Daniel J. Cellucci

Part 28 of a weekly series.

Several years ago I was grabbing coffee with a friend. At some point I shared a challenging situation with a family member and without giving it a thought I said, "say a prayer for her, if you would." I say that a lot, and while I mean it, often it’s more of a way to conclude the story or move to the next topic. But that day, I received a very unexpected response from my longtime friend. He said, "Well, why don’t we pray for her right now?"

Right now? In a coffee shop? While I’m eating a scone? What would the people around us think? I began to sweat a bit and wondered if it wasn’t time for a coffee refill.

"Uh, yeah, sure," I mumbled uncomfortably. Mind you, I had been working for a Catholic organization for several years, often speaking in front of large groups about the importance of our faith and our church. We bowed our heads and my friend offered a brief but poignant, spontaneous prayer, and then we continued our conversation.

What started with sweat for me turned into a deep sense of gratitude and a curiosity as to what gave my friend the courage to do what he did.

Even today the words "disciple maker" and "evangelization" scare me a little sometimes. They feel like terms that are too big for me to own. Me, a "disciple maker?" I could never go to a foreign country or stand on a street corner and proclaim the Gospel.

Yet, the more I read Scripture, the more I discover that while Jesus’ Great Commission "to go and make disciples of all nations" is big in importance, it doesn’t require big gestures. In fact, the more individual, the more personal, the more spontaneous, the better.

Jesus spent time with large crowds, but most of the Gospels are focused on his time with a few special people in his life — friends who knew each other well. They shared everything — meals, time, hopes, challenges. In that setting Jesus made the most effective disciples who would go on to canvas the world, making thousands of disciples and disciple makers.

Fast forward to a coffee shop in Pennsylvania thousands of years later. My friend was making a disciple of me. The ingredients were the same — trust, friendship, challenge, even food. At the right time, my friend brought God into a moment of anxiety. He gave me comfort and sparked within me a curiosity about his life and the peace that our Lord clearly brings to him.

Make no mistake — disciple making is all of our responsibility whether we feel like we can own it or not. I try to remind myself that "God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called" — if we depend on him. We need not look to the street corner or a foreign land. We have plenty of "mission territory" among our family and friends.

Our mission territory is where we share trust, where we spend time, where we know there is love. Think about that the next time someone in your circle asks you to pray for someone. As their friend, introduce them to your friend Jesus.

Cellucci is lead consultant for On Mission for The Church Alive! and senior vice president of the Catholic Leadership Institute, a national nonprofit apostolate focused on supporting bishops, priests and lay leaders with leadership development and consulting services. Follow On Mission for The Church Alive on Twitter at @PghChurchAlive.â ¯Have something to share about how your parish is On Mission? Use the hashtags #ChurchAlive and #OnMissionPgh.

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