Discipleship, Stewardship and Evangelization

October 24, 2022 | NEW MINDS

Discipleship, stewardship, and evangelization are three areas of our Catholic life that help us discover our path to holiness. Many times we talk about them independently of each other, but they are connected. They all focus on growing in our relationship with the Holy Trinity and with each other.

The word “disciple” means being a “student, learner or follower.” In our Catholic faith, discipleship is being a follower of Jesus. Stewardship means recognizing that all that we are and all that we have is a gift from God and then living a grateful and generous lifestyle. There’s a connection between discipleship and stewardship - which should lead us to evangelize..

In 1992, the U.S. Catholic Bishops wrote a pastoral letter called “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.” Being a good steward assumes we are disciples. As the title suggests, stewardship only makes sense to people if they are disciples of Jesus. If not disciples, stewardship will look like a recruitment drive to boost Mass attendance or it will look like begging for more parish volunteers or it will look like endless fund-raising requests. If there is no relationship with Jesus, there is no discipleship and there is no stewardship.

Fr. Jarrod Lies, a diocesan priest from the Diocese of Wichita, says this about the relationship between discipleship and stewardship. “Discipleship precedes stewardship. Discipleship determines one’s identity in Christ while stewardship describes one’s mission to fellow disciples.”

Evangelization is going out and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus into every human situation, seeking to convert individuals and society by the divine power of the Gospel. Good stewards are inclined to align their thoughts and actions with God’s plan for them. Good stewards are inclined to use their gifts from the Holy Spirit or “charisms” for the glory of God (and not their own self-gratification). There’s a connection between stewardship and evangelization.

When we love someone or something, we can’t help but talk about it. When we work in a ministry that highlights our charisms, we love doing what we are doing and we love sharing our stories. Our love for Jesus is something we want to share because we want others to have the same love, joy, and peace that we are experiencing. This is the connection between stewardship and evangelization – using our gifts the way God intended and then joyfully sharing our experiences and faith with others (in other words, evangelizing).

Fr. Jarrod says this about the relationship between discipleship, stewardship and evangelization. “The practice of stewardship inevitably leads to evangelization. Stewardship depends immediately on its fidelity to discipleship and commitment to evangelization. They are, so to speak, the front and back end of stewardship. Just as a long train can have engines pulling from the front and pushing from the back, so stewardship will lose momentum if it is not situated between the two engines of discipleship and evangelization.”

As we go forth in our evangelization efforts, it’s important that we determine where people are at in their faith journey.

If people are disciples out of obligation (i.e. fear of going to Hell), and not out of love, we should help lead them to an encounter with Jesus - to strengthen their friendship with Him and elevate their discipleship.

If people have accepted their discipleship out of love, but are not good stewards of their gifts, we should encourage two things. First, pray daily - throughout the day – talk, and more importantly, listen to how God is calling them to use their gifts. Second, help people discern what their charisms are. When people are living their charisms, they are more likely to choose the ministry God is calling them to. Using their gifts becomes part of their life and it becomes easier to share their faith with others.

If people have accepted their discipleship out of love and are good stewards of their gifts, but unsure of how to evangelize, we should help them become disciple-makers. Instruct them on how to accompany others on their faith journey.

Conversion is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit. But, we need to do our part to help our sisters and brothers on their own path to holiness – we need to help everyone take one step closer to Christ.



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