Thursday, October 4, 2012

Catechesis - Not Child's Play

Sometimes we think of catechesis, or training in the Christian faith, as just something for children, particularly for young teenagers. Yet learning and growing in our Christian walk is for believers of every age and every level of experience. Quite a few years ago, now, the pastor of a church I was attending, seeing that he had only one other elder in the church, gathered a group of the men of the congregation. He picked people who, as far as he could tell, fit the description of overseers (elders) in 1 Timothy 3. We were invited to join him every other Saturday morning for a three hour session of training, accountability, and prayer for our families and our congregation. After working together for about two years we spent some time together studying the Scripture in regards to the ministry of elders in the local church. About half of us were interested in serving this way, while the other half, though thankful for the experience and time together in training, did not consider serving as an elder something that fit their families at that time. Those who were identified and willing to serve as elders were brought before the congregation, answered whatever questions congregants had of them, and then the pastor and the other elder laid hands on us and ordained us for service in Word and Sacrament within the body. I make just a few very quick observations about this process. 1) It seems to reflect the idea of elders being appointed out of and for specific local communities seen in Scripture. 2) It acknowledges the fact that those who teach will be held to a high standard and need to be prepared for that ministry. 3) It gathers biblical elders in a fellowship of other elders who will hold one another accountable. 4) It assures that the elders will spend time growing in their knowledge of and commitment to the local congregation. Since that time, some ten years ago, two of the elders have left that particular congregation and are serving in pastorates elsewhere. All acknowledge their need for ongoing training and their gratefulness to the pastor and their fellow elders who have invested in them through the years. Catechesis - Christian training - is not just for children. It’s for all of us.

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