How do we embrace the seeker in our midst: the individual who comes to church not quite sure what brought her there, the person who has been away from church but now feels the need to return, the steady parishioner suddenly called to go deeper into his faith?
How do we engage with these and the many other types of seekers about the spiritual truths that bring us into the fullness of Christian life–a life of relationship, meaning-making, renewal, grace, joy, and even sorrow? This is not about onboarding members or cultivating Episcopalians. It’s not about theology. It is about helping others get at the heart of Christianity–revealing to them the main thing, which is the undiluted, unconditional Love of Christ and the call to share this love with one another.
In ancient times this work was called catechumenate. Christianity (The Way) was new to the world and the catechumenate was a (three-year!) process for forming people in the faith in a world unfamiliar with Christianity. We find ourselves in a similar position now, with much of the population either having no personal experience of the Christian faith, or a narrow and perhaps misleading view of Christianity seen through the lens of the media. What is our process for bringing these individuals into the faith in modern times?
The faith formation team has been called to help parishes create a process for seekers of the faith by:
- Coming alongside parishes to identify how this work can become an integral part of the way they embrace seekers.
- Identifying valuable, realistic resources to assist parishes with this work.
- Facilitating in-person, on-line, and hybrid learning environments that cater to the needs of our different demographics and geographies.
- Creating a series of modules that can be used in-part or fully to frame a catechumenate experience.
As this work unfolds, this page will evolve into a place for resources, shared parish experiences, and upcoming opportunities. By October 2018 we plan to have the first of three modules for parish use: Preparing for the Journey. This module, expected to be six weeks in length, will focus on the gifts of transformation–the spiritual truths–inherent in the Christian faith: relationship, meaning-making, newness of life, grace, joy, and sorrow. At the end of this module, some seekers may choose to conclude their experience and some to continue the journey (perhaps leading to baptism or reaffirmation).
So, back to the original question: How do we embrace the seeker in our midst? Share with us your best practices, your stories, and your challenges. Let us know your needs and how we can come alongside you to reveal the main thing–the undiluted, unconditional Love of Christ and the call to share this love with one another.
Resources for Exploring the Catechumenate
Read Building Faith’s article Re(discovering) the Adult Catechumenate: The Path of Discipleship for an overview of the catechumenate process.
Journey to Baptismal Living is an organization of diverse people (clergy and lay) from diverse denominations (Episcopal, Lutheran, United Methodist, Presbyterian among others) connected through their commitment to the movement of faith through the sacrament of baptism to baptismal living as disciples of Christ. The organization provides training and resources.
Go and Make Disciples: An Invitation to Baptismal Living (book resource)