Start with Jesus: How Everyday Disciples Will Renew the Church By Julianne Stanz
This is another well written book on the topics of discipleship, creating vibrant parishes in order that they can transform the culture. It is similar in scope to previously reviewed books on discipleship and evangelization such at Made for Mission by Tim Glemkowski and The Contagious Catholic by Marcel LeJeune.
Start with Jesus argues that the parish is still the best place to help people encounter Christ and grow in community in order to change the culture around them. The parish is the place where people connect with the Church and should be the place where they are uplifted and nurtured. The parish is the local family of faith. Parishes should be centers for forming disciples and transforming sinners into saints.
The Church is countercultural to our prevalent consumerist and individualistic world culture. The church is both the medicine and the cure which shows people the alternative way of life: the life of Christ. The Church transforms hearts of ordinary people to follow Jesus and forms them into disciples growing in holiness. These disciples then make disciples, slowly transforming the culture and the world one heart at a time, accompanying people both in joyful and difficult times.
The book answers questions using stories and examples from the many parishes that the author has visited and worked with in her role as Director of New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay and a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Catechesis and Evangelization.
Some of the main topics are:
- Why we need to evangelize and what is evangelization? It explains what the mission is and who should do it.
- What is the Good News and what is good about it? And once we understand what the Good News is, how can we share it?
- How did Jesus do it? How did he share the good news and form disciples?
- What is the role of prayer in the process of evangelization and being and forming disciples?
- How can our parishes bring hope healing and hospitality to our hurting neighbors and world?
- How do we accompany, walk with others on their journey, and who walks with us?
- How does forming disciples change the culture? Why should we focus on people and relationships rather than programs and institutions?
- What is the vision and mission of our parish, and who leads us?
- Where do we start?
Through relatable stories we learn the who, what, where, when and how of forming disciples and evangelizing our parish and the surrounding community.
If you are looking for a place to start in your parish to build a vibrant culture of discipleship, Start with Jesus would be a good book filled with examples and ideas that can be used to form small groups and set them on fire for the mission of evangelization.