We asked a number of churches what they do with their “Christianity 101” courses, designed as the first step of instruction for new or potential members. Here’s a sampling of their responses.
Dave Stone reports that Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky, encourages all new members to attend its What We Believe class. The class is offered on video each Saturday night and Sunday morning. Bob Russell leads four 45-minute sessions that constantly rotate, so people can jump in whenever they like. The course offers the basics of Christianity, explains the differences in churches, and teaches what Southeast believes.
Chuck Sackett at Madison Park Christian Church in Quincy, Illinois, revamped the church’s 101 class to resemble Southeast’s, but with a twist. Madison Park now has a new member’s meal, a fun evening where the elders serve the meal and provide “comic relief.” Elders dress as whatever their “creative director” decides, from waiters to cowboys. Throughout the meal the elders have conversations with the group, providing information about the church, its origins and activities, an introduction of the staff, an explanation of the work the elders do, and other items.
Harborside Christian Church in Safety Harbor, Florida, conducts a Life in the Harbor course that runs 10 sessions on Sunday mornings. The course is for guests, and is taught by three different ministers. The material repeats itself every 10 weeks, and people are invited to start at any time. A summary of the class content:
1. What is Christianity?
Religion is man trying to reach out to God, but Christianity is God reaching out to man. This lesson explains the covenants that God entered into with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and finally the New Covenant through Jesus. It teaches who can enter the New Covenant and how to accept God’s offer.
2. Ten Essentials of Harborside
A description of the church’s beliefs concerning the Bible, God, and Jesus—and what our response should be.
3. Making Sense of Church History
An overview of 2,000 years of church history that explains where Harborside fits in. The class closes with four slogans of the nondenominational movement.
4. What is the Meaning of Baptism?
The following questions are answered: Why do you immerse instead of sprinkle? What about baptism and children? Do I need to be rebaptized? Must I be baptized to be saved? What is the primary purpose of baptism?
5. What Kind of a Meal is the Lord’s Supper?
The open, weekly observance of Communion is explained, as is its connection with Jesus’ body.
6. Making Cents of God’s Plan
A course on giving that starts with money, and then explores the giving of your time, reputation, future, life, and your most precious possession.
7. One Size Doesn’t Fit All—How You Can Grow in Christ
Intimacy with God is the focus. This session includes reading the Bible, how to journal thoughts and prayers, how to worship God in a personal setting, and how to stay connected with God between Sundays.
8. Unwrapping Your Spiritual Gifts
Discovering your spiritual gifts is important for you and for the Body of Christ. Each of the spiritual gifts listed in the Bible is highlighted.
9. Where Do I Fit In?
This class examines an individual’s experience, abilities, passions, opportunities, and gifts and assists them in matching their giftedness and passions with a Harborside ministry.
10. It’s Not About Me
This focuses on the five purposes of life: You were planned for God’s pleasure. You were formed for God’s family. You were created to become like Christ. You were shaped for serving God. You were made for a mission.
Chandler Christian Church in Arizona offers a class called Discovering Church Membership—CLASS 101 that seeks a commitment to Christ and the Chandler family through focusing on these four areas:
Our Salvation (What God has done for us)
• What advantages are there to being “in Christ”?
• How do we find ourselves “in Christ”?
• The what and why of baptism
• The what and why of Communion.
Our Statement (Why CCC exists as a church)
• The Purpose Statement.
• The Faith Statement.
• The Lifestyle Statement.
Our Strategy (How CCC fulfills its purpose)
• The story of Chandler Christian’s beginning.
• Who we are trying to reach (target).
• The circles of commitment and four covenants.
• The Chandler CHRISTIAN Church strategy.
Our Structure (When and where CCC fulfills its purpose)
• How our church is structured.
• What does nondenominational mean?
Lifespring Christian Church in Cincinnati (formerly Clovernook Christian Church) provides new members with instruction that includes the following elements:
Our Mission—Passionately love God
Our Vision—More people becoming Like Jesus
Our Core Values—Grace, servanthood, community
Our Basic Beliefs—
1. There is one God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
2. The Bible is the Word of God
3. Sin (self-centeredness) is the human problem
4. Jesus is our only hope
Our Key Strategies—
1. Seek God’s leading and strength (2 Corinthians 3:5, 6).
2. Engage the culture (1 Corinthians 9:22).
3. Build bridges (Ephesians 4:3).
Our Expectations of Members—
1. Participate in corporate worship (Hebrews 10:24, 25).
2. Become part of a small group (Acts 2:41-46).
3. Love one another in a broken world (Ephesians 4:15, 16).
4. Develop leaders (2 Timothy 2:2).
5. Risk boldly (Ephesians 3:20, 21).