The Church needs Following Christ now!
Dear brothers and sisters,
Disciples are ordinary people who have been captivated by the extraordinary love of God and want to learn how to live like their Teacher, Jesus Christ. Because of the generosity of people like you, an estimated 100,000 people have experienced the invitation to discipleship through the Following Christ course.
However, we are at an impasse. The Following Christ course is eight years old and is not just showing signs of age—but it has reached its’ shelf life. We are hearing from parishes and dioceses anxious for a new edition with high-definition video and accessibility for the hard of hearing and Spanish speakers.
With your help the Following Christ course can reach tens of thousands of people in the coming years and impact the next generation.
In light of the troubled times we’re experiencing as Church, we must look to what the answer throughout history has always been—to be “saints” or “missionary disciples” who together proclaim the Gospel. As Fr. Joseph Ratzinger said in 1969, “The future of the Church, once again as always, will be reshaped by saints.”
Following Christ provides practical, down-to-earth teaching on living as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Most people have never received teaching in the daily disciplines of living as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Topics like Daily Personal Prayer, Scripture, the Sacraments, Forgiving One Another, and Spiritual Warfare are essential for our journey.
Following Christ provides the context for spiritual growth to occur—not just through the presentations—but through the gift of community. People are able to experience large group prayer and worship, small group discussion, and fraternity. Too often adult faith formation in Catholic parishes leave these elements out and focus solely on passing out information.
Following Christ bears fruit. The number one testimony we hear is that people are empowered to have a personal prayer time and read Scripture every day. As one participant shared after the course:
“I embarked on a personal prayer routine, which has been the greatest blessing of all. I start every day with the Lord and He speaks to me often. I hear Him while reading Scripture. I see Him everywhere, in everything and every person.”
You can help more people become disciples of the Lord Jesus through supporting the development of a new edition of Following Christ. The story below shows how ChristLife impacted one woman.
Regina’s husband was killed by a drunk driver one morning after leaving church. Left to raise three high school age children by herself, she felt absolutely crushed. Anger at God and unforgiveness towards the man whose reckless behavior had taken her husband were her constant companions. “Suicide was an option at one point… I hated him.”
A few years later, Regina attended Discovering Christ at her parish. During the retreat, her pastor prayed over her to be filled with the Holy Spirit. “Suddenly I felt God’s love. I hadn’t felt loved in 8 years.”
She continued the ChristLife series, learning about the importance of forgiveness in the Following Christ course. With one of her new found friends she attended a Catholic conference where she finally prayed for the courage to forgive.
Her prayer answered, she decided to forgive the man who killed her husband face-to-face and arranged to meet him in prison!
As she sat down with him she asked, “Do you know who I am?” “No,” came the reply. “I’m Regina… Michael’s wife.” His face crumbles and he begins to weep saying “I am so sorry…” Gently Regina places her fingers under his chin, lifts his face towards her and says, “And I forgive you. Neither of us have to be defined by this event... God wants a relationship with you and He loves you.”
Regina continued to speak about Jesus and his love for an hour. Before she left, she gave him a hug and whispered in his ear, “Remember, I forgive you. And Jesus is waiting for you.” He choked up, and as a tear came down the side of his face, said “You have given me hope.”
She walked out of the prison “with all of this junk falling off of me. Yes, I still lost my husband… but it doesn’t take my breath away anymore… I’m loved. I’m a beloved child of God. I can’t even tell you how much my life has changed.”
Testimonies like this fill us with divine passion to help more and more people become Jesus’ disciples and grow in living the abundant life of the Trinity!
The reason that 100,000 people have grown in discipleship through the Following Christ course is because people like you stepped up and decided to support the development of the first edition of the course.
If you’ve benefited from the Following Christ course, will you “pay it forward” and help MAKE DISCIPLES of the Lord Jesus by making a generous gift today?
ChristLife does not have a huge national list of everyone who has gone through the Discovering, Following, and Sharing Christ courses. Our primary contacts are the volunteers and parish staff who help facilitate the courses. This totals several thousand people.
In order to make this new edition of Following Christ a reality we need the transformation you and your parish have experienced through Following Christ to translate into financial support for the sake of others.
$120,000 is the full amount needed to produce a brand-new edition of the Following Christ course. With these funds, the new edition will feature:
- High definition filming
- Professionally designed course manuals
- Captions for the deaf / hard of hearing
- Complete translation into Spanish (subtitling, dubbing, and translated course guides)
We are filming Following Christ on September 21-23 at St. Louis Parish in Clarksville, MD. To date we have received $25,000, which provides the initial down payment needed to get the film crew out for this weekend. That is all we have at this point. We need to raise the funds for the video editing ($35,000), course material design and printing ($10,000), DVD duplication ($7,000), as well as translation and production of the course in Spanish ($42,000).
We want to release Following Christ in January 2019 and the Spanish edition in Spring 2019—but we can’t do it without your help!
The Church urgently needs high quality Catholic resources in Spanish. Hispanic Catholics are fast becoming a major segment—already about one-third—of the Catholic population in the United States. However, for many it is a “cultural faith,” demonstrated by research that shows nearly 80% of Hispanic Catholics do not attend Mass weekly.
One parish leader who ran Descubriendo a Cristo (Discovering Christ in Spanish) in her parish in Northern Virginia shared about their need for ChristLife by saying, “Many have stayed with a first Communion kind of faith.”
Since December 2016, over 30 parishes and dioceses from New York to California to Mexico have purchased Descubriendo a Cristo. Many of these parishes are waiting to run Following and Sharing Christ once translated. This represents thousands of Hispanic Catholics and others who need to hear the message of Following Christ!
David served as the bilingual emcee for his parish, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the Diocese of Richmond, VA. He shared:
“I have seen first-hand the fruit of the ChristLife process for both the Spanish and English-speaking community. ChristLife helped bring the two language groups together at the parish and there were so many beautiful fruits of conversion and deep spiritual renewal. Many of us were disappointed when we realized we didn't have access to the Spanish version of the videos on the follow-up phases of the program.”
ChristLife seeks to put its’ charism of evangelization at the service of the growing Hispanic presence here in the United States and beyond. But we need your help.
Brothers and sisters, we are experiencing turbulent times as a Church. Fr. Joseph Ratzinger’s comments from an interview nearly 50 years ago ring true today and remind me of the importance of small discipleship groups that are central to the ChristLife experience:
“From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge—a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.”
What is that beginning? We find it in the words of Jesus Christ, “Come and follow me.”
Will you make a generous gift today to help others to hear and respond to this invitation? Your gift will help more people experience the Good News of the Following Christ course for the first time.
PS: Consider becoming a monthly donor, which will not only help with the production of Following Christ, but sustain our mission of making disciples over the long run.