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Initiating People Into the Kingdom: Catechism at Life on the Vine by Cyd Holsclaw

In keeping with the format of www.missioalliance.org, we have a second post every week after Fitch’s post . This week’s second post is this one by Cyd Holscaw, a fellow pastor at Life on the Vine. It’s on catechism. Read about her here. Join in the conversation with her won’t you?

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Every year, preceding Lent, we begin a “Journey to Jesus” (named so after the Robert Webber book of that title) for anyone who is discerning conversion / baptism. Although we have had adults go through this journey as well, this is one of the primary processes of discipleship for our children who are making a movement into the fuller life of Christ and our community. Parents and children participate in the classes together, making this a family journey, rather than an individual one.

During our first three weeks together (the ‘seeker’ stage), we discuss stages of conversion (from Webber’s book) and use some of Scot McKnight’s material from A Community Called Atonement to unpack what it means to be eikons, both broken and restored. When the participants transition from the ‘seeker’ stage to the ‘hearer’ stage, we spend time studying the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer (using 3DM’s hexagon) to unpack what it means to believe and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ (the third stage of conversion).
After three weeks in the ‘hearer’ stage, the participants stand before our community and answer questions, marking their turning away from sin and death and turning toward trust and belief in Christ as a precursor to their baptism. Now they have entered the ‘kneeler’ stage. While here, we examine where we are in the Story and the tension of living in between the resurrection of Christ and the marriage feast of the Lamb. We explore the dynamic of putting off and putting on in Ephesians 4 and Romans 6-8 and talk about standing firm in the armor of God, faithfully following the Lamb in uncivil worship and witness (Gorman).
On Easter Sunday, we have a riotous baptismal service, where the participants are baptized and our whole community re-affirms our baptismal vows and we are called to live into our baptisms. Immediately following baptism, we feast at the Lord’s table together and then continue our feast with an Easter breakfast.
Following Easter, our ‘kneelers’ become members of ‘the faithful.’ Together, we explore where we practice the presence of Christ, how we devour His word, and what it looks like to be a faithful witness to the Missio Dei (and now we have a home-grown resource for this!).

Each year, as I lead this class, I am reminded again that conversion is not just a one-time affair, but a life-long practice. Each time I recognize my sin, I must repent and turn away from it. Each time, I place my belief and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. And each time, I walk in obedience, dependent upon the sanctifying work of the Spirit. And each year, I come a little closer to the cross and a little closer to the feast.

How does your church walk new believers through conversion / baptism?

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