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Discipleship: Gauging the Different Thresholds of Conversion

Jesus met his own disciples where they worked, as fishermen and tax collectors. He met them on the seashore while they were fishing, at the well where they were living their simple existence. He socialized with them, ate with them and lived with them. A disciple today must do the same. [1]


You see, men are at different places in their Spiritual Journey, and our goal is to reach out to them wherever they are, right now.

A man will further his commitment to discipleship when he is ready.

People in sales are trained in a lot of motivational and sales techniques, but the one thing that brings this point home has always been: “People buy for their reasons, not your reasons”.

As you may recall, Christ walked the road to Emmaus along with some of his Disciples, but they didn’t recognize Him. He listened to them complain about the world for a long time until they asked Him his thoughts and it was only then that Jesus spoke. The lesson here is Jesus only began to teach when they were willing to listen. Once they had heard what he had to say, they asked Him to a meal where Jesus broke bread. When they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread, they were ready to become disciples, and ran to tell the Apostles what they had seen and heard.

Jesus recognized that it took time for his disciples to be formed, and we have come to discover that there is a progression in the discipleship process.


In her book, Forming Intentional Disciples, Sherry Waddell identifies five stages on the path to discipleship:

  • Stage 1: Initial Trust where a person has a positive association or an Encounter with Jesus,

the Church or another Christian. This could happen at a Retreat, or from support from a Catholic friend when they REALLY needed it.

  • Stage 2: Spiritual Curiosity involves becoming aware, engaging in conversation, and wanting

to learn more about Jesus, his life and his teachings. A man at this stage may be coming to Liturgy or Mass, but isn’t engaged in it or other ministries.

  • Stage 3: Spiritual Openness is being willing to TRY a more determined prayer and engage in the Sacramental life. This is the stage when a man’s heart is beginning to open.

  • Stage 4: Spiritual Seeking is when a man advances from just TRYING to ACTIVELY PURSUING growth as a Christian for himself.

  • Stage 5: Intentional Discipleship is defined as actively pursuing growth as a Christian not

just for themselves, but for others.


During different stages of development, a man may be interested in very different levels of engagement or activity.

  • Trust Stage - A person may only desire social activities as he develops trust with God, the

       Church or other Christians. He is NOT interested in any big commitments. Some activities for     

       men at this level are a barbeque and beer with some other guys, or going to a baseball game

       with a group.

  • Curiosity Stage - A person may enjoy social activities with an occasional discussion or a few

       questions about faith. There might be some biases and perceptions about the Catholic church     

       that will require some gentle guidance from you here. This is also a good time to offer a man 

       some stiff from FORMED, so he can listen to it in the car.

  • Openness Stage - A man may be ready for more active participation in Liturgy, the sacraments, and appropriating a prayer life. They may also be interested spiritual books and participating in service projects. This is the perfect time to share your own faith journey so he knows he’s not alone in his struggles with work, family and faith. This is also a good time to ask thought provoking questions like “What do you do when life throws you a tough curve ball?”. Help them connect the dots on how God has been at work in their lives, even during their tough times. Ask them if you can pray for them to be open to God and ask them if they would be willing to pray themselves and acknowledge their openness to God.

  • Seeking Stage - A person shows strong interest in learning more about Christ and their faith.

       They are actively working toward a more committed relationship with Christ that impacts how

       their time is spent and their priorities shifted toward appropriating and developing their faith. 

       This is the stage when a man is ready to get engaged in ministries/

  • Intentional Discipleship - A person has decided to follow Christ and be an example of Christ

       to others. A disciple lives for the sake of Christ and His Church and is willing to give of himself for         the full benefit of others. A man at this stage is willing to drop his nets and become an icon of     



Don’t let the word Disciple scare you. The definition of a Disciple is Teacher. A disciple is not perfect, but he strives to imitate Christ and to be an example of Christ to others. A disciple shows his love by walking beside another person and helping them grow in Christ.


A disciple gauges when another man is ready to share the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is called the Kerygma. We touched on the Kerygma in one of our previous meeting. The Kerygma must be ALIVE in you before you can share it with others. 

One last point, you may not be called to walk with someone for the entire course of their journey. In scripture, it describes how one man may till the soil, another may sow, another may cultivate, another may harvest, and still another may mill the grain. So, it is with Christian growth. You may be called to journey for a short distance or for a long walk. Be willing to be adapt and adjust as the man you’re shepherding goes through the Stages.  

It's not important to memorize the specific Stages of Discipleship. The key takeaways from this are to understand that a man’s faith journey starts with Trust, and we need to meet them where THEY are and help them grow spiritually and be ready to be more engaged in their faith and ready to join us.


[1] I found this copyrighted material at the following webpage: I made some changes to fit the Eastern Church. The Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men has a lot of great resources for us to use to help develop our apostolates.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Share an example of your progression through one of the stages of discipleship.

  • Share an example of how you have met another person and helped them on their path to Christ.

  • What is the one thing you can do now to commit to be a more Intentional disciple?

A reading from David Fagerberg's Liturgical Mysticism

Jesus’s whole thought, his whole delight, was in the thought, in the will, in the being of his Father The joy of the Lord’s life, that which made it life to him, was the Father, of him he was always thinking, to him he was always turning.


I suppose most men have some thought of pleasure or satisfaction or strength to which they turn when action pauses, life becomes for a moment still, and the wheel sleeps on its own swiftness: with Jesus it needed no pause of action, no rush of renewed consciousness, to send him home; his thought was ever and always his Father.


To its home in the heart of the Father his heart ever turned. That was his treasure-house, the jewel of his mind, the mystery of his gladness, claiming all degrees and shades of delight, from peace and calmest content to ecstasy.


His life was hid in God.

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