|This Article is from the Fall 2005 edition of good idea!, also available here in a fully formatted PDF file.|
One of the crucial needs for a congregation wishing to grow in the area of evangelism is to offer a course where the “basics” of the Christian faith are taught in a way that is accessible, winsome and challenging. For many churches, Alpha has filled this niche; for others, Harold Percy’s Christianity 101 series has been very helpful. Yet there is evidence that churches which offer their own homegrown courses of this kind see very similar levels of response to those offering the better known programs.
Tim Chesterton has been teaching Christian Basics courses since 1997. Currently, St. Margaret’s runs three Christian Basics courses a year, two on weeknights and one on a Friday night and Saturday; the courses are four sessions long, and are designed for inquirers, for new Christians, for new church members, for long-time members who need a refresher course in the basics, and for baptismal candidates or parents bringing children for baptism.St. Margaret’s also runs a six-session follow-up course, Growing and Living as a Christian, designed to help people who have accepted the invitation to become followers of Jesus and who want help on the next step in their journey.
The material from these two courses has recently been published as Starting at the Beginning (Anglican Book Centre, 2004). Bishop Victoria Matthews says, “I especially recommend this book for seekers and those wondering what becoming more serious about the Christian faith would mean.”
Harold Percy adds, “The time has long since come for the church to reclaim its primary ministry of making disciples—intentional followers of Jesus who are learning to live to the glory of God. For congregational leaders who want to help people grow into spiritual maturity, this book will be a helpful tool.”
Tim is excited to make the material in Starting at the Beginning available to a wider audience through the Institute of Evangelism, so that more congregations can begin to create and teach their own Christian Basics program. He is able to offer two slightly different weekend workshops.The first workshop simply presents the Christian Basics course within that time frame. This leaves participants to work out how they might create a similar course for their own context. Some prefer this approach.
The second presents the Christian Basics workshop but also gives guidance about how to run Christian Basics courses in a parish setting. Tim’s parish experience has been in small congregations in the ‘Family’ and ‘Pastoral’ size categories, but the principles are applicable to all sizes of congregations.
Tim is no longer available as an Associate of the Institute. Please contact the Director, John Bowen for help teaching Christian Basics.