The Holy Spirit does not call people to discipleship only from September to May. The call is constant, and hearts of seekers are moved to respond every hour that Christians are awake and living in the world. We know that is true because we are the presence of Christ. And when Christ is present, people are changed.
So what stops us from assisting seekers in answering the call of the Spirit when that call happens outside our faith formation schedule?
I hear lots of reasons. Our team is too small. We don’t have the resources. We don’t have space. We don’t want to burn out the team. The pastor won’t let us. Seekers want to get finished quickly.
However, I don’t believe any of these are the core reason. They are the reasons we give because the real reason is too scary to think about.
Does your RCIA have a limited scope for the power of the Holy Spirit?
If any of these roadblocks were true, imagine what that says about the power of the Holy Spirit. In at least one of your RCIA sessions, you are probably teaching about the Holy Spirit. And one of those teachings is that that Holy Spirit is a giver of gifts. And not just any gifts, but the exact gifts each of us needs to fulfill the mission we have been called to.
Yet, we say to ourselves that our gifts are limited. We say to each other that we do not have the gifts we need (larger team, more resources, more energy, a different pastor, etc.) to help seekers become disciples whenever the Spirit calls them. We say to the Holy Spirit we’re not quite sure we believe in God’s unlimited power.
Still, even these fears are not the core fear. What we are afraid of—what I’m afraid of—is we don’t have what it takes. I usually think I’m stretched to my limit as it is. If God (or the pastor or some “expert”) asks one more thing of me, I may just lose it.
To say that, to even think that, requires a huge amount of vulnerability. I’m not good with vulnerability. I don’t think most of us are. But here’s what’s true. The number-one thing we are asking of the seekers is to be vulnerable. We are asking them to let go of their old lives and begin to live a new life in Christ. We are asking them to trust. We are asking them to change.
We will have more credibility with our seekers if they witness in us a willingness to be vulnerable.
Don’t get too comfortable with your RCIA process
When I get stuck in a comfortable way of doing things, even when I know the Spirit is asking me to change, I pray. I don’t pray well. I don’t pray in poetic verse. I don’t pray anything profound. I pray like a three-year-old who doesn’t want to take a nap.
Something like: “Okay, God, I know I should. But I don’t want to. I’m not going to. And I know you’re not going to make me. But I will make this one small concession. If it is your will, make me want to. So now it’s up to you. I prayed.”
Like I said, not pretty. You probably have a better prayer. But miracle after miracle in my life has shown me this is all the invitation God needs to change a hard heart.
Right this minute, the Holy Spirit is calling someone to discipleship who will show up in our life at exactly the time we think we are least prepared to assist them. That’s true. That’s never going to change. So we have to change instead. Are we vulnerable enough to ask for God’s help?
How is the Holy Spirit challenging you and your RCIA process? What’s one step that you can take today to be open to the work of the Spirit? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
4 thoughts on “Why don’t we make disciples in the summer? The core fear that prevents a year-round RCIA process”
Thanks for today’s post Nick. After Mass yesterday, a young man asked if I could meet with him in the evening to talk about what happens at Mass. I hesitated. This is so very “inconvenient”. Then the Holy Spirit, who works through my wife, nudged me and said- “just do it. He looks troubled.” Turns out it was an amazing encounter, which would have been missed if the Spirit didn’t whisper. Thank you Lord!!
Just this weekend three more people have inquired about entering the Catholic Church! It is so exciting. Someone asked me if they have to wait until September. Of course not!
Yes, we will need more resources but I do believe in what I heard many years ago: God is not interested in our ability but in our availability.
Blessings and prayers as you continue to serve our Lord.
In my daily reflection book there was a question to the effect of: “Whom would you rather walk around than encounter? ” I felt like congratulating myself as all the people I encountered that day, came to my mind and I felt grateful for their presence in my life.
Then, I thought of those I know…all clear. Then those folks I really don’t know…no problem. Until one person came to mind. Yah. o.k. I WOULD walk around this person.
I prayed for grace and sent a friendly text: “Hi. Just thinking about you and wondering how you are.”
Back snapped a text. “Why are you texting me now?” (It had been sometime since I last saw this person.)
I texted back ” I’m reading a reflection and realized how poorly I keep in touch. So I thought I would just say Hi.”
There was a long silence.
Then my phone dinged as another text arrived. “I am so lost. My grandpa died. The funeral is tomorrow. My kids are too young for a funeral. I am all alone. My mom will be there and I haven’t seen her in 12 years.”
There was a long silence on my end as I cried my repentance and begged God for words to reply. I started to text my thoughts but found myself texting other words. Apparently they were just the words the person needed to hear.
The person has never had any church affiliation yet at the end of texting the person offered to pray for me.
Do I trust the Holy Spirit? Him only. Him completely.
I have started Year Round and have gotten several inquiries since making the change in August. I am on my third Inquiry stage since August, and just met with someone else. I’m planning to start next Inquiry in January. The big challenge is getting the parish onboard since they are so used to the school year model and can’t see the vision.
Another example of following a ‘school year’ model is not holding any meetings in the summer. Faith, the Mass, the Eucharist, etc, is not just 9 months/year so why do we stop doing everything else in the summer? Why shouldn’t Liturgy Committees and Pastoral Councils meet all year? When encountering this years ago in a former life, I challenged our pastor to stop having Mass in the summer. After he thought about it, we started doing more things year round.
Thank you for all you do!