On Saturday, June 15th 2019, 102 lay delegates from across the Diocese of Cardiff gathered at the Holiday Inn, Newport, to spend a day with Sherry Weddell, the evangelist and author of the book ‘Forming Intentional Disciples’ and others. The majority of the lay delegates had read, studied and discussed the book over six to eight weeks in parish groups. The book gave them an understanding of how people pass through five thresholds on their way to becoming disciples and apostles of the Lord, the thresholds of trust, passive curiosity, openness to change, active seeking and intentional discipleship.
Sherry began by explaining that we no longer live in a culture of “Christendom”. Rather, we live in Missiondom, with two mission fields in which to work – the “near” mission field where trust is in place: people here have a Christian identity and are in the early thresholds. Those who are in the “far” mission field have no bridge of trust in place and no connection with Christianity. The latter group is where lay evangelisers must work.
During the course of the day, Sherry covered many aspects of evangelisation. She talked about the need to talk more about Jesus, the need to discern our charisms, the importance of listening and of intercessory prayer; the need to be able to proclaim the ‘kerygma’, and the need to train ‘Ananaises’* in parishes. She gave a wonderful description of the person of Jesus in the Eucharist. She said that we must break the silence, preach the kerygma, proclaim Jesus and pray seriously.
Sherry had a lovely measured way of delivering her teaching and regaled us throughout with interesting stories, asides, anecdotes and a good sense of humour. All in all, it was a truly inspirational day. It is now our challenge to take up our responsibility as Christians, to put her teaching into practice and to discern the way forward for ourselves, our parishes and our diocese.
* Ananias – someone who will be a friend to those following the path to discipleship and will walk with them.