Dear brothers and sisters,
This week, as we kick off various Fall activities in our parish family, we are introducing our first-ever preaching series entitled Next STEPS. This series is an outstanding introduction to the “culture” that we’re trying to cultivate at St. John’s, because it will help to focus us on a big basic question: How do I become a disciple of Jesus? Whether you are a life-long Catholic, a recent convert, or somewhat skeptical about God and faith, this six-week series will speak to you. So often we Catholics offer people a “heap of Catholicism” (i.e. here’s the Catechism – go read all 900+ pages and you’ll know everything); or hoops to jump through (i.e. you’re required to do x, y, and z to receive Confirmation or become a Godparent); or a list of requests from the priest (i.e. buy a raffle ticket; sign up to volunteer at the Parish Picnic; remember about the Holy Day of Obligation). All of these things have some merit behind them, but none of them by themselves get to the heart of the matter.
Jesus never gave us a list of obligations to check off from a list, but he did frequently ask one thing of people: “Follow me.” In this series, we will look at the five major steps, based in God’s Word, which we believe are necessary to grow as a follower of Jesus: Sharing faith through Evangelization; Tithing & Giving; Engaging in a Small Group; Practicing Prayer & Sacraments; and Serving in Ministry or elsewhere. God can draw a person closer to Him through any step, at any time. Therefore, it is important to note even though STEPS is an acronym, the steps are “fluid” and can occur in any order, often cycling around in various ways and in different times throughout one’s life. The series presentation follows this format.
Each week, I will share a series of questions that I encourage you to use in some small-group format: maybe at your dinner table, or among friends, or any other way. Our hope is that sometime in the future we will organize parish small groups. For this week’s introduction (see James 2:14-18), here are the questions:
Do you like to keep to-do lists? Do you tend to view your relationship with God as a to-do list or something to check off the list?
Do you believe that the 10 Commandments are confirmation of a relationship with God, not conditions for one? Why or why not?
What steps can you take to framing your relationship with God in the context that he already loves you?
Which STEPS have you already taken: Serving, Tithing, Engaging in a Small Group, Practicing prayer, and Sharing your faith? What one area has done the most to grow your faith? Why is that?
Which of these STEPS do you believe is your next step on your faith journey? How can this group support you?