Remember the scene in Its A Wonderful Life where
the young George Bailey is dishing up ice cream at the soda fountain and bragging about
his membership in the National Geographic Society? His membership really means something
to him. It is an expression of his passion and dreams of seeing the
world. It is a part of his identity that he is proud of and wants to share with others. It sets
him apart from the other young people in Bedford Falls.
Membership can mean a lot or it can mean little. It depends on the organization and
the individual member. I can be a significant contributor, maybe even hold an office, attend every meeting
and serve on committees. Or I can come to an occasional meeting but contribute nothing of substance to the
group. I must confess to being both kinds of member at times in my life.
Being a disciple is different. Discipleship is a weighty word. When we call ourselves
disciples of Jesus, we are saying that were more than just members of his fan club. We are committing
ourselves to being his pupilslearning about him, learning from him, learning to be like him.
Discipleship makes demands of us.
We need only look to the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles to learn from the earliest
Christian disciples. We have the saints as models of discipleship through the ages. But what does discipleship
look like in todays Church? And why does discipleship seem to be a new concept to so many
Sometimes whats new is actually something old thats
been rediscovered, repackaged or brought to our attention in a different way. New things
are often radical in
the original sense of the wordfoundational, from the root. The freshness comes in that the new
packaging jars us to consider what we are about. New
Beginnings: A New Way of Living as a Catholic
is radicalits purpose is to take ordinary Catholics from membership to discipleship.
Paul Wilkes, creator of New Beginnings, spent several years visiting hundreds of
parishes across America. He wrote Excellent Catholic Parishes: The Guide to Best Places and Practices
(I9928) as a result. New Beginnings is the latest outgrowth of what he learned from these parish visits.
It is a three-hour, multimedia curriculum kit to assist parish leaders in making their parish a more happy, holy
and welcoming place. It offers tools you can use to transform ordinary members into extraordinary disciples.
Click here (RealMedia
| Windows Media
) to see a video clip from the bonus documentary that
comes with each New Beginnings
curriculum kit. The documentary Islands of Hope
ministry-driven, innovative Catholic and Protestant churches. The clip highlights the Catholic parish of
St. Pius X in El Paso, Texas.
New Beginnings can be used anytime you want to introduce your parishioners
to the concept of discipleship:
– with newly baptized Catholics during their
– to orient new parishioners to your parish;
– to encourage members of small Christian communities;
– for Lenten and Advent seasonal renewal;
– for ministry and catechist formation.
If your parishioners need to awaken to the call of true discipleship,
give New Beginnings a look.