November 22, 2003

Post-modern catechumenate

Church planter Berry Alvis, reporting on the November Indie Allies Meetup in Dallas, writes:
We ... talked about how we live in community and how we live out the faith together is crucial for pre-christians. Pre-christians may even become part of the community before they embrace following Christ.
I commented that the idea of pre-Christians becoming a part of the community is an ancient one. They were called "catechumen" (from the Greek, "one receiving instruction) and were welcomed into the fellowship even as they learned what it meant to follow Christ. If I recall my church history correctly, they were instructed by catechists, men and women responsible specifically for guiding them along the path to faith.

We use a lot of words in our church today that, on the surface, seem to describe a similar process. We speak of our need to be "discipled" (shouldn't that be "disciplined?") and seek "disciplers." We look for young Christ-followers or even pre-Christians to "mentor" or "develop." These approaches are obviously part of the modern paradigm. But beyond that, they don't address the fundamental need once addressed by catechists.

Is there a need for catechists in the emerging church? I wonder what my church would think if I gave up the title "Pastor" and started putting "Spiritual Guide" on my business cards? How does that strike your ears? Are there implications or meta-meanings that I'm too naive to get? I'd love your comments.

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