Making Missionary Disciples

A White Paper by Curtis A. Martin

Executive Summary

“I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything…for the evangelization of today’s world…” said Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium para. 27). Is this your dream as well? Would you like to see your parish, apostolate or family flourishing? Do you desire to have a culture of missionary disciples who serve with great generosity and joy? Are you prepared to welcome thousands of lost and broken souls into the merciful embrace of the Church?

There is an awakening among Catholics that we ought to become a Church of missionary disciples. Much is being said and many wonderful programs have arisen to help make that vision a reality. What can each of us do to experience the “needle-moving” outcomes that would result in the transformation of which Pope Francis speaks and for which we all long?

(Image from Jeffrey Bruno/Aleteia - Canonization of Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14037472464)


“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew… I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the church’s journey in years to come.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium para. 1)

After talking with our people, evaluating our inputs and outcomes, and even hiring an outside researcher to come in and evaluate the long-term impact of our efforts, we were thrilled to see that there are, in fact, three habits that begin to transform lives and foster a culture of encounter and witness: Divine Intimacy, Authentic Friendship and Clarity and Conviction about Spiritual Multiplication. This white paper will explain these three habits and the three-phased “Method Modeled by the Master,” which we have implemented and which has led to the hope-filled results of our work. In FOCUS, the Method Modeled by the Master has been described by the elements of “win, build, send,” which are echoed in Pope Francis’ terms of encounter, accompaniment and Spirit-filled evangelizers.

“To create a culture of encounter and witness, we must live explicit lives of discipleship. We are called not only to believe in the Gospel but to allow it to take deep root in us in a way that leaves us incapable of silence: we cannot help but to announce the Gospel in word and in deed. This missionary outreach is at the heart of discipleship.” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Living as Missionary Disciples: A Resource for Evangelization p. 14)

We are keenly aware that there are major differences between university parishes, Newman Centers, Catholic chaplaincies and your parish, apostolate or family. But our more than 20,000 alumni have moved on from college and are now living their lives in parishes that are not unlike the one you attend. We know a little bit about different venues as there are great differences within the 137 campuses we serve – from Benedictine College and Franciscan University to Cal Berkeley and Harvard. Still, despite the differences in these venues, we have seen that these three habits when applied to this three-phased method have borne fruit more consistently than anything else we have seen or tried. It is our prayer that these habits will bring new life to you and those with whom you share life – and that this Method Modeled by the Master will bring transformation and fruitfulness to you, your parish, your apostolate and your family.


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