Last October, the id team took a few days to pray, evaluate, celebrate, and seek the Lord’s will for our work in 2022. While we anticipated the time would be fruitful and refreshing (which it was) and expected the Lord to speak, we were surprised by the clear and specific vision He gave us.
Heading into 2022, we felt called to re-invest in the greater Ann Arbor area in order to see an abundance of Spirit-filled, young adult leaders emerge who could “grow and go” by building discipleship communities. While our conviction to build communities and invest in leaders around the world is as strong as ever, we realized the great need to drill down deeper in our own backyard, since the Lord has always used those efforts to inform and purify our work in other places. We want discipleship communities to be the prevailing and recognized culture for young adult Catholics in Ann Arbor, and I’m happy to report we are making progress toward that dream.
To engage the Ann Arbor community, we organized family dinners, worship nights, women’s small groups, a weekly group for young mothers, and a men’s formation cohort for Advent. We believe Spirit-filled leadership is essential for developing authentic Christian community and mission, so this past Lent, we led over thirty young adults through our nine-week, Spirit-Filled Leadership Course. Each week, we gathered for worship, a short teaching, and small-group triads. The expectation was for participants to take what they were learning and utilize it throughout the week. The Spirit-Filled Leadership Course is the bedrock of our efforts in our communities. It’s amazing to see potential leaders grow in their understanding of God’s call on their lives during the course and learn how to navigate their lives together as disciples practicing the way of Jesus. Here’s what one participant said about it:
“Before becoming a part of the discipleship community (DC), I had no intentional faith community. I attended a local parish and had Catholic friends, but no group that I could call a community. In the DC, I have finally found that community. We’ve gone from a group of acquaintances to true friends. Even in the midst of the pandemic, God generously blessed this group with joy, peace, and faithfulness to one another. I’ve learned so much from them, and I can’t imagine my life without my DC.”
Ann Arbor has a long way to go, but the Lord is raising up a new generation of people who want to abide with the Father, become like the Son, and live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
As we’ve invested locally, we haven’t ignored outward expansion! When COVID-19 hit in the Spring of 2020, we recalibrated the Spirit-Filled Leaders Course into a fully digital opportunity called the Spirit-Filled Leaders Intensive Course (SFLi). To date, over 700 people worldwide have taken the thirty-day course! A few Australian young adult leaders went through it and loved the SFLi, which spawned some conversations with them about formally bringing the id model to the Diocese of Perth. We now have our first official Australian id community led by about twenty dynamic young adult leaders who have embraced the vision of discipleship communities and are working to see them grow!
Additionally, some of our existing communities continue to thrive and demonstrate the potential to be “hubs,” or places where people could visit to really experience what God is doing through id. In particular, our friends in Jacksonville, Florida, have seen inspiring growth. What started as one bought-in pastor and two leaders has multiplied into two cohorts of people who’ve gone through the Spirit-Filled Leaders Course and grown into four discipleship communities. Josie, one of our key leaders, said this:
“id has been an incredible blessing to the young adult community of Jacksonville, Florida. There is a need for what they are doing within the Church. Many young adults are searching for community. They want to share in fellowship, faith, and service of the broader community with others, but unfortunately, many parishes do not provide an opportunity for this kind of community. The discipleship communities that id is helping to form have the potential to transform churches, communities, and entire cities.”
God is on the move in Jacksonville!
We’ve found that people are more willing to commit to the lifestyle of Spirit-filled leadership and discipleship communities if they’ve had a previous experience of dynamic faith formation or if they were personally blessed by hearing or watching the message the Lord has put in our hearts. We are excited and grateful for numerous opportunities to preach and teach at parishes, schools, Legatus chapters, diocesan assemblies, conferences, and online. Everywhere we go, we are inspired to remind everyone that Jesus is Lord, heaven and hell are real, holiness and mission are non-negotiable, and a full life in the Spirit is normative in the life of a disciple.
The entire id team expects God to move in and through our lives. We are constantly looking for opportunities to share the Gospel and to invite people to experience new or deeper conversion! In particular, our id missionaries, led by Rachel Herbeck, have been investing in young adults from all walks of life, ministering to their needs, and inviting them deeper. Please join us in praying that more and more young adults meet Jesus and more doors open across the world for us to bring the Living Word that has been placed in our hearts.
If you or someone else in your area would be interested in hearing more about what we do, reach out to me at email@example.com. We remain hungry for the hungry, ready to invest in any young adult who wants to go deeper because our world desperately needs intentional disciples!