In the early centuries of the Christian Church, people were welcomed into the church and into the journey with Jesus through a time of study and preparation called the catechumenate. This process of discipleship formation followed four phases: inquiry, catechumenate, preparation for baptism, and baptismal living. Today some mainline Christian churches are adopting (and adapting) this catechumenal process as the center of their life and ministry organized around the Great Commission call to baptize and teach.
The Going Deeper series offers helpful catechetical material for congregations who are organized around the adult catechumenate process. The entire series provides a faith formation curriculum for individuals and small groups. By design, the series encourages participants to develop the daily spiritual disciplines of Bible reading and prayer. The thematic flow of the series intentionally moves from questions about the identity and nature of God to spiritual guidance for living the faith daily.
Congregations who are committed to using the liturgical lectionary as the substance of their catechumenate “curriculum” will find the Going Deeper series a helpful companion in two ways.
First, the series parallels the flow of the Christian Church Year (see “A Year-long Deeper Journey with Jesus”). Secondly, the third book of the series, Called to Follow, leads participants into an in-depth experiential study of the fivefold life commitments for what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus (what we call the baptismal promises):
living among God’s faithful people,
hearing the word of God and sharing in the Lord’s supper,
proclaiming the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
serving all people, following the example of Jesus,
striving for justice and peace in all the earth.*
As we live into Jesus’ call to follow, we learn daily to “walk wet,” to live out our baptism, born anew to become the hands and feet of Jesus Christ for the world. This study guide, Called to Follow, provides an excellent baptismal preparatory study for baptismal candidates during the season of Lent.
Congregations who are looking for a faith formation curriculum for their catechumenate process will find the entire Going Deeper series a helpful companion.
Book One: Yearning for God provides a path into and through the inquiry phase. This is a nine week study that begins with the human yearning of the creature to know the Creator, and it progresses through several life-changing encounters of people with Jesus Christ: Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, the man born blind, the woman caught in adultery, and Peter. This first volume concludes with the challenging call of Jesus to follow him.
Book Two: God Comes to Us is a resource for the catechumenate phase in which catechumens explore the faith of the church. The eight week study, God Comes to Us, makes use of the Christian statements of faith (the creeds) to introduce the fullness of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a God who wants to be in relationship with his people.
As mentioned above, Book Three: Called to Follow uses the outline of the baptismal covenant from the Affirmation of Baptism service to describe five significant life commitments (baptismal promises) for what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus. This study guide provides the substance for the time of intense preparation before the celebration of Baptism (typically at the Easter Vigil).
Book Four (The Fruit of the Spirit) and Book Five (The Body of Christ) provide teaching about baptismal living: the Christian life and the Christian Church. The nine week study, Fruit of the Spirit, leads to a deeper understanding of the fruit of the Spirit, the qualities—the character of Jesus Christ—that the Spirit desires to produce in the church and in individual disciples: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). This seven week study, The Body of Christ, focuses on the biblical images of church to present a picture of what it means to be the church today, living among God’s people, and sent out into the world.
*Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Worship. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 234.