What Should Be Included in a New Member's Class?

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"What should be included in a new member's class?"

I was discussing this question with a church leader and I thought, "this would be a great topic for the Network!" Please share your ideas, best practices—and maybe things to avoid—in developing a new members class.    

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  • Evangelism
  • Faith Nurture
  • Small Groups
  • Discussion Topic

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Thanks, Sam, this is a great topic and one that I hope people will comment on. When I revised our membership process a little while ago there was a dearth of materials about the topic. I found one very good book, called Membership Matters, I think, but not a whole lot else. 

My "working" process (always open to change) is based on CS Lewis' image of the Christian faith as a great house with many hallways and rooms. The first session is about belonging to Christ and is a presentation of the gospel. The second is about the biblical nature of the church and what it means biblically to be a member of a church. The third session is about the "hallway" of Reformed theology, history and practice and the last is about the "room" that is our own church. I also sometime show a video about infant baptism if this is a topic of discussion. I would love to hear what others do.

I'm a little surprised that our denomination doesn't have a simple "welcome to the CRC" type of video that could be shown to prospective members, at least not one that I've found. This wouldn't have to be a big DVD production, just a simple Internet video. I think it would fill a real gap.

 

 

Allow me to share our experience on the mission field in Mexico where we work with the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico. We constantly offer a new members class called "Inicios" or "Beginnings" at our 11 a.m. Sunday School hour. The class runs for four months so we offer it three times per year. 

 

The course starts with the big questions: What does it mean to be a Christian? Who is God? What is our problem? Who is Jesus? What does Jesus do? How to receive salvation? We teach on justification, sanctification, adoption. From there we move to some sessions on the denomination and some Reformed history. From there we move to our local church: our values, how to grow in grace, areas to serve, our ministries, meaning of sacraments, importance of covenant, etc. And we end with the membership questions to asked at one's public profession of faith.

 

The course neither guarantees membership nor obligates anyone. If, at the end of the course, people would like to make their public profession of faith and be baptized (if not baptized before), then they fill out a membership sheet, meet with the elders and then set a date. We have almost all new folks go through the same course: new believers and those from other churches, although the needs are different. Also covenant youth raised in the church take the course prior to their profession of faith.

Rev. Ben Meyer

Seymour CRC (Grand Rapids, MI)

Missionary to Guadalajara, Mexico with CRWM

Guide

Thanks for your great ideas and experience!

 

Something I designed years ago has served me well even with adaptations in different churches.   A four-week (4 hour) class entitled "Believing to Belonging"   Week #1 -" Believing"  Basic on faith.  Verses from Ephesians and Romans.  I also teach "the Bridge" and have them place themselves someplace around the great Chasm.  Week #2 - "Believing part B"   This week I go over Reformed thought and doctrines. I review the Creeds and Confessions.  Week #3 "Belonging part A -   What does it mean to belong to a denomination and what is the CRC?    Week #4 - "Belonging part B"   - I talk about our specific church... its dreams, vision, and ministries.  Practical stuff.      Each week we keep it highly relational and tell some stories and most participants ask a lot of questions.  NO lecture.

 

 

 

 

Guide

Sounds great Pete. Would you be willing to share your document? It would be fun to see a few membership class samples! 

Guide

Sounds great Pete. Would you be willing to share your document? It would be fun to see a few membership class samples! 

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