Didache Blog Tour – Day Three, Chapter Four

Yesterday, Holly Rankin Zaher and Tripp Fuller both weighed in on The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community.  Their assignment was to reflect on Chapter Four, “There Are Two Ways.”

Holly is a committed youth pastor, and has been for years.  It’s from that perspective that she writes,

In my context of a youth ministry trying to live out the way of Jesus, I can’t help but wonder what our confirmation process look like if we used the Didache to shape at least part of the process. Might that help reshape the notion of confirmation and discipleship from ritual-driven to apprenticeship? Would a frank discussion on ethics and living life in a certain “way” help people understand a relational understanding of faith? Could it be that in discussing a way to life we might discover a deep vat a grace that Tony highlights?

Indeed, that’s exactly what what the Didache’s original purpose seems to be: as a catechetical manual.  It’d be interesting to know if any youth workers out there have used the Didache in confirmation classes.  If I were teaching confirmation today, I would use it.

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Does God Reward the Faithful?

Well, 57% of megachurch attendees think so, at least according to a 2007 Baylor University survey.

So reports a fascinating article in AdWeek (HT: Bob Carlton, finder of all articles stimulating).  The point of the article is to once again remind advertising and marketing peeps that Americans are a very religious people.  In fact, we are surely the most religious of all industrialized countries.

This is a point I try to make repeatedly, like I did a couple weeks ago when reflecting on my time in Australia.  And I make it right at the outset of The New Christians.  In Australia, committed Christians really are dealing with a large segment of the population with no Christian background.  It makes catechesis particularly relevant, and you can see why programs like the Alpha Course catch on there and in the U.K.

But in the U.S. in general, and in my locale in particular, Christianity is in the drinking water.  Every year that I taught confirmation class at Colonial Church while on staff there, parents with no connection to the church would arrive in September with their 15-year-olds and enroll them in the program.  Confirmation at Colonial was a fairly rigorous, 12-month process that included lots of church history and theology, two retreats, spiritual disciplines and a summer mission trip.

To this day, the churches in my hometown have between 50 and 200 ninth graders in their confirmation classes.  And while those numbers skew higher than other parts of the country, Minnesota is still one of the most progressive (read, liberal) places in the country.  And yet, here we are, full of big churches and big youth groups.

Nevertheless, erstwhile church planters journey around this land, claiming that they’re going to save the “most unchurched city in America.”  Which city is that?  Depends on whom you ask (as we discovered this summer on the Church Basement Roadshow).

While it’s true that too often those who work in advertising, marketing, journalism, and politics have underestimated the religiosity of Americans, those of us in the church world dare not make that same mistake.

By the way, in answer to the opening question: The rain falls equally on the just and the unjust.