How can elders help new members prepare for baptism and discipleship?

"Catechumenate" is a theological word for a process for bringing adults into faith in Christ and preparing them for baptism and discipleship. This ancient practice is revitalizing congregations around the world, including RCA churches.

The Greek root of the word "catechumenate" means "to sound in the ear." Thus the term suggests that the catechumenate uses human relationships of speaking and hearing, telling and listening, and conversation and reflection to bring people into faith.

Another effective model for bringing adults to faith is called "Alpha." Alpha meetings provide a safe setting where people can explore Christianity. A shared meal and small groups build a warm community that bonds people together; the talk addresses basic questions like, "Who is Jesus?" "Why did he die?" "What about the Bible?" and "What about prayer?" The retreat creates a setting where people invite God to change their lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. The small groups create an open place to be honest about doubts, questions, faith, and struggles, which get wrapped in prayer. Alpha can be conducted with the use of videotapes in small churches, or with videotapes and speakers in larger churches.

More information on Alpha resources can be found on the Alpha website.