Go Make Disciples! Fr Mike’s pitch to Sydney

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Bible in a Year podcaster makes powerful plea to local Catholics

American Catholic priest, university chaplain and internationally renowned podcaster Fr Mike Schmitz has made a stirring pitch to Sydney Catholics to focus their efforts on making new disciples through personal encounters with family and friends or risk failing future generations in the faith.

Fr Mike addressed hundreds of Catholics in an online presentation on Saturday 28 May, “Why Make Disciples? What Our Tradition tells us about calling and forming disciples” as part of the Reclaiming Evangelisation series organised by the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation.

Fr Mike has gained international acclaim for his podcast, “The Bible in a Year” which guides its listeners through the entire Bible in 365 episodes with commentary, reflection and prayer to accompany each episode.

He also has a great passion for youth ministry and currently works as a chaplain at the University of Minnesota in the Diocese of Duluth.

Evangelisation crucial to the Church’s future: Fr Mike Schmitz. Photo: Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
Evangelisation crucial to the Church’s future: Fr Mike Schmitz. Photo: Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

In his presentation to Sydney Catholics, Fr Schmitz emphasised the critical importance of evangelisation to the future of the Church.

“A lot of our churches are built on incredible land with incredible buildings and potentially incredible technology now, but if at the end of the day, the Church doesn’t produce disciples, the Church is a failure because Jesus gave us the great commission to go make disciples”, The Minnesota priest explained.

“Just as a shoe factory that doesn’t make shoes is a failure, the Catholic Church is a failure as a Church if it doesn’t make disciples”.

“just as a shoe factory that doesn’t make shoes is a failure, the catholic church is a failure as a church if it doesn’t make disciples.”

Fr Mike Schmitz said the experience of countless generations of Catholics has shown that personal encounter is critical to discipleship and he believes it is therefore vital to win over the trust of a prospective Catholic before you can successfully evangelise them. He refers to this process as a pre-evangelisation phase.

“The Gospel will not be advanced from a stage, but will be advanced through family and friendships. So you need to make disciples where you’re at”, Fr Mike explained.

“None of us have to wait for anyone’s permission to share the Gospel. You don’t have to write to your bishop and ask ‘can I share the Gospel with my neighbour?’

So the question then is ‘Do you want to do so, not how holy you are to share the Gospel with others.”

“THE GOSPEL WILL NOT BE ADVANCED FROM A STAGE, BUT WILL BE ADVANCED THROUGH FAMILY AND FRIENDSHIPS. sO YOU NEED TO MAKE DISCIPLES WHERE YOU’RE AT”.

“And this message is also reflected in Pope Benedict’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) in which he emphasises that Christianity is not the result of a lofty ideal, it is the consequence of having an encounter with a person, Jesus, that changes the trajectory of ones’ life, gives ones’ life a new horizon and sets it in a decisive direction”, he added.

Fr Mike Schmitz emphasised that the path to discipleship wasn’t always a smooth one and that it inevitably involves the believer going outside of their personal comfort zone to serve the Lord.

“A disciple is someone who is willing to change their schedule in order to get closer to Jesus. If I’m not willing to change my calendar or my schedule in my daily life to get closer to Jesus, I might believe in Jesus, but I’m not a follower or Jesus. That should be the matrix for discipleship”.

For information on future events organised by the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, visit the Go Make Disciples website 

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