Last week I was in Chicago at the SLS18 Conference. I thought I was there to learn about the FOCUS model for colleges. I was a bit shocked out of my complacency when the leaders of the conference invited me to bring a “FOCUS” mentality to my parish.
For those of you that don’t know what a FOCUS mentality is, let me explain.
FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) is about transformation.
To accept Jesus is to be transformed. Not into a rule-following Uber Catholic, full of fear of a vengeful God, but into a trusting, happy, peaceful soul, content in your understanding that you are loved.
Enjoying a RELATIONSHIP with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
That’s step one. Radical and personal transformation.
Step two: starting a small group. Loving three fellow parishioners just as they are. Enjoying them. Then inviting them into a deeper relationship with God via a Bible Study with the intent that they each do the same with three others.
THAT’S what this conference was about.
People, I am busy. Why do this? I wasn’t sure I was at the right conference.
Then I heard a couple people talking about “silos.” I grew up in a small farming community. I know silos. What did they mean, “WE are turning into silos?”
Well, silos are on their own. They are by themselves. They don’t merge. They don’t mingle. They are alone.
Our culture is FULL of lonely family silos, standing forlornly by themselves.
Could I build into three others? Do I want to spend my time doing that? Could Russ do that?
Lots to ponder, I know. Let me make this more real for all of us:
David Trotter used to be a missionary. He now works full time for FOCUS and he is a father of soon-to-be six children. SIX. David Trotter is not a quitter.
Busy as he was, he wanted to implement this model of build/win/send in his parish.
He asked one strong fellow Catholic man to be his “wing man.” They gathered and began to think about strong men in their parish, men that could be part of a core with them.
They wrote down fifteen names. They prayed over those names for a couple of weeks.
They met again and chose four men from the list.
Together, they took those men out one on one, for breakfast, lunch or for drinks.
They asked them three things:
- Would you be willing to give three hours a month to a Bible study?
- Would you be open to the idea of eventually leading a small group Bible study?
- Would you pray for other men by name on a daily basis?
Each of the four men said yes.
Strong men from his parish. Willing to learn and grow deeper.
David said they met for breakfast at one home (some homes are more conducive for that) and studied Scripture together.
But that wasn’t all. David and his “wing man” built into these guys. They cared for them in a deeper way.
They became INTENTIONAL in their friendship. They got to know their families over the course of the months together. They got to know their pain points, their stresses. Over the course of time, they shared life.
Authentic friendship is about being there. So if one man shared how his child was hurting, they’d pray intentionally for that child. If one man had a backyard barbeque, all were invited.
They shared life.
What a cool way to combat the SILO culture!
Now, I want to pause right here. You and I are busy, yes, I know that. But wow, just take a step back and think.
- How would it feel to have someone that you trust make the decision to build into you on purpose?
- How would it feel to be known just a little more, to receive text messages from someone in your parish that wanted to know how your day went?
- How would it feel to be mentored?
- How would it feel to be known, loved and cared for?
How would it feel to turn and do that for others, not just becoming a disciple but a disciple maker?
This is different than “just” taking a Bible study. This is about taking seriously the command of Jesus to “make disciples of all nations.”
And here is the cool dealio: when someone gets built into, it affects all. Let’s say your husband was asked to be in a Bible study and to follow the three suggestions that David Trotter implemented with his guys:
- Three hours a month.
- Eventually lead a study with three or four guys.
- Pray for specific men on a daily basis.
The Spirit of God cannot be contained. He leaks out. All over family life. All over the work place. All over the community.
Once the Spirit is engaged, he is present with every interaction.
I love love love love love love thinking about that.
Spiritual Multiplication is cool, way cooler than I anticipated.
There are many Bible studies available that are extremely easy to implement. Crux is from FOCUS. It goes over salvation history and presents the basic gospel message. Another good place to start would be with the Discovery study from Catholic Christian Outreach.
This isn’t about being brilliant. This isn’t about being a theologian. This is about caring for others.