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One grassroots way the Holy Spirit is working in the Church today

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The Evangelical Catholic

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 07/23/22

Apostolic lay people make a huge difference, and a growing ministry equips laypeople to be more effective disciples.

The initiative and ingenuity of holy, mission-minded laypeople is something incredible to see. 

Apostolic lay people are able to reach people in places and situations far outside the four walls of a church. They can change hearts with simple conversations

Their Christian witness makes such a difference in individual lives and in the whole Church. 

One ministry, The Evangelical Catholic, is preparing more laypeople to be able to do this, to be more effective disciples of Jesus. 

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The Evangelical Catholic (EC) is a non-profit that prepares lay people to be zealous leaders who are excited and equipped to go out and evangelize their communities. It has hundreds of small groups already in existence and over 1,000 new individuals currently in training.

“I saw more and more people deepening their ability to listen during prayer” thanks to EC, a lay leader shared with Aleteia. “I witnessed people being more present to those around them.”

EC began when founder Tim Kruse was asked to launch a small group program at a parish back in 1997. He and his wife, Sandy, started meeting weekly with a small group of parishioners. 

They prayed together, discussed Scripture, and shared aspirations to grow in intimacy with Jesus. They reflected on the Lord’s call to make disciples of all nations. 

Tim and Sandy also met one-on-one with the men and women in the group to help them establish mature lives of discipleship. Eventually, members of the group felt called to launch their own small groups to reach more people in the parish.

As more people became disciples and led small groups, a movement was launched. The Evangelical Catholic was formed to coach and provide resources for Catholic ministries to drive movements of apostolic activity. And the results are borne out in testimonies from over 20 years of ministry.

One lay leader with EC said she is proof that anyone can answer the call to be a disciple of Jesus. “I truly believe the saying, ‘God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called,’” she said. “I trusted in Jesus and he has provided in ways I couldn’t even imagine.”

We recently had the chance to catch up with Jason Simon, president of EC. Here’s our conversation. 

Why is the Evangelical Catholic method so effective?

Before ordination, priests receive years of formation and training for their station in the Church. Rarely do lay Catholics receive any focused formation and training for their station in the Church. 

Parishes should be the center of this formation and training. But they often lack a model and resources for how to form and train lay people in this way. The prevailing classroom model of catechesis is not deeply impactful. 

The Evangelical Catholic coaches local ministry leaders to invite and lead parishioners into deeply formative experiences and practical training so they can be apostolically fruitful in their daily lives. The formation and training process takes three months. 

Through the formation, Catholics are excited to have an intimate relationship with Jesus through prayer and the sacraments. Through the training, they experience great joy in knowing how to help people in their circles of influence become disciples of Jesus.

Our method of formation and training is effective because, first of all, it is bathed in prayer. It is not “plug and play.” Our consultants spend weeks praying with local ministry leaders about what the Holy Spirit wants to do in their Catholic community. 

We lead them through how to invite people into the three month training group. We coach them on how to lead the group and how to meet one-on-one with each person during the three months.

The Holy Spirit wants to raise up more apostolic laborers for the harvest. We coach ministry leaders to create the best environment for God to raise lay people up as Great Commission laborers.

Why should pastors/lay leaders bring The Evangelical Catholic to their parish/diocese?

Pastors and lay leaders know that the fields are ready for harvest in the world. They see people in the surrounding community who are not disciples of Jesus, but are also not opposed to faith. They know that apostolic lay people are the best way to reach beyond the walls of the parish. 

The Evangelical Catholic coaches and provides resources for Catholic ministries to fulfill the Great Commission in their community. EC consultants will pray with them, give them proven paths of fruitfulness, make sure they have all the tools they need, and steer them around pitfalls that will slow this apostolic work down. 

We partnered with almost 200 ministries last year alone. We can help any Catholic ministry to start bearing apostolic fruit through God’s grace.

What is the most important thing to know about The Evangelical Catholic?

Jesus always gives us grace to fulfill his will. So, when he tells the Church to go make disciples of every nation, there is abundant grace to accomplish his will. 

No matter the size, financial constraints, or challenges, the Holy Spirit has a pathway of grace to help every Catholic fulfill the Great Commission. The Evangelical Catholic exists to help every Catholic to find their way into this thrilling pathway of disciple-making fruitfulness. 

Every ministry leader on our team has extensive experience engaging the Great Commission in our professional and personal lives. We are passionate about accompanying other leaders into the joy of this mission.

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