Thursday, October 06, 2005

Moving Past the Check List

Within the last month, two concerned church members came to me requesting I approach their child about the matter of baptism. Sensing there were more in the youth group, I spent two weeks promoting a special breakout group for anyone interested in exploring baptism. Last night was the first group meeting. Eight students voluntarily attended.

I’m shying away from the traditional Christian Church five finger exercise (faith, repentance, baptism, remission of sin, and the gift of the holy spirit). I was taught this as a child, trained in Bible College, and seen is used at both churches I have worked. It is a time test method to teach new believers. But as McLaren wrote, “Learning isn’t a consequence of teaching or listening…but a consequence of thinking.”

Christendom has too many unwilling to think about their faith. As a result, they are unsure of what they believe, therefore, are “[un]prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [them] to give the reason for the hope that [they] have” (I Peter 3:15). The five finger exercise, in all practical purposes, is a check list to agree with before being baptized. It maybe a “good foundation” to start off with, I question if students build upon what they have been taught. I believe there is a way to foster critical thinking, to present the message of salvation so that students will “have tasted that the Lord is good.” (I Peter 2:3), and as a result they will come to Jesus (I Peter 2:4).

I do not judge those who continue to use this method (though I am sure some will find my questioning as a form of judgment) but I cannot continue this traditional method in good conscience. I desire students to think about their faith not just agree with what I tell them.

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