Christian formation is the lifelong process of growing in relationship with God, self, others and all creation. In this process, we are transformed into the people God wants us to be. The Episcopal Church has gracefully articulated how we answer God’s call in The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation.
A new resource, now available to congregations who desire to help adults grow in their discipleship as follows of Jesus Christ is now available. The Pilgrim Program is a course for those new to Christianity, seekers, inquirers, and any adult who wishes to return to the basics for the first, second, or twentieth time. Broken into two stages: Follow and Grow, each stage has four units of six sessions each (with the exception that Session One: Turning to Christ, has seven sessions). They would easily fit a Sunday morning adult class of 45 minutes or an evening program, possibly preceded by a light meal. Follow is designed to be led by a facilitator who has been an active member of a faith community for some time, while Grow’s leadership can be shared amongst the group.
The Follow Stage and Leader’s Guide is now available, with the Grow Stage booklets (or ebooks) available in August 2016. Download an Overview and a Sample Session. From the Foreword by Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry:
The purpose of the Jesus movement was and is the transformation of the world from the nightmare that often now exists into the dream that God intended since the dawn of the creation itself. God really came among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus came to show us the way into that dream of God. Jesus came to show us that the way of God’s love is the way to life for us as individuals, communities, nations, and the world.
I am so delighted that Pilgrim: A Course for the Christian Journey is now available to The Episcopal Church. Here is a resource that introduces those considering the way of Jesus and more deeply immerses those who have already made that commitment to the Jesus way of life.
Leader’s Guide The Pilgrim Leader’s Guide has lots of helpful material for those who are leading any Pilgrim Group. A single guide covers all eight booklets and gives an overview of the program as well as a process of how to lead a group of youth or adults in discussing the material. This is an essential tool for anyone who wishes to offer any portion of Pilgrim in a small group, whether in church, school, or home. Worship material, liturgies for enrollment in the catechumenate, and additional resources are also included.
Course 1. Turning to Christ: What do Christians believe? This is the question explored as the questions that are asked at Holy Baptism are discussed. We begin by looking at who Jesus was; why did people want to spend time with him so long ago and why do we promise to turn to Christ and follow him today? This is followed by learning what Christians believe about God, Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Holy Spirit, and the Baptismal Covenant (which is covered in Session 7 as an added piece).
Course 2. The Lord’s Prayer: How do Christians know and worship God? Explore the Lord’s Prayer in these sessions as a gateway to the Christian gospel, as a guide to our own prayers, and as a way of deepening our relationship with God. Here is a way of seeing God and the world and yourself which is profound and revolutionary and good news.
Course 3. The Commandments: Following Jesus is about the way we behave as well as what we believe. So how should Christians behave and how should we live? This part of Pilgrim explores that question through one of the core texts of the Christian faith: the Commandments. We look in Session 1 at the two commandments Jesus uses to summarize the whole of the Old Testament law: the call to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In Sessions 2–6 we explore the remainder of the Ten Commandments.
Course 4. The Beatitudes: The Beatitudes are a short but profoundly beautiful and influential collection of sayings by Jesus. They sum up his teaching about what it means to live as a child of God’s kingdom. This course believes that following Jesus requires us to engage with this important text, so that it is restored to a central place in the life of the Church. We believe that the Beatitudes, and trying to live them out, is one of the best ways of loving God with all your heart and understanding the Christian vision for the world.
Course 5. The Creeds: As we speak these words we do so as part of the worldwide family of Christian believers, the household of God. In Session 1, we look at what it means to say: ‘I believe’ and ‘We believe’ and at the role the creeds play in strengthening our relationship with God. We move on in Session 2 to explore what it means to understand God as Trinity: one God in three persons. Sessions 3 and 4 take us deeper in our understanding of Jesus and look at the way Christ is fully God and fully human and at the great work of redemption on the cross. Session 5 explores the person and work of the Holy Spirit and Session 6 at what we believe about the Church – the people of God called into being through God’s grace.
Course 6. The Eucharist: How do Christians know and worship God? This second book in the “Grow” stage offers six sessions that reveal the reasons why The Eucharist is celebrated as a memorial of Christ’s saving passion and stands at the very heart of Christian worship. We look at the intimacy we have with God in Holy Communion and how we are transformed by the encounter. The last session considers the notion that the whole of life is sacramental.
Course 7. The Bible: What is it, how was it given to us and how should we read it? These six sessions combine simple prayer, Bible reflection in the lectio divina style, an article by a modern writer, and time for questions and reflection. It includes an exploration of what it means to say that the Bible is living and active and how to making Bible reading part of our regular life and prayer.
Course 8. Church & Kingdom: What does it means to live as a child of the kingdom of God and to follow in the way of Christ each day as a member of the Church? The importance of prayer, living out our faith, celebrating Sabbath, and reflecting generosity is explored. We look at how faith in the God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit shapes and changes all our relationships. We consider how the Christian life requires us to be involved in the affairs of the world and to witness to God’s kingdom of peace and justice every day, plus how we are in relationship with the earth itself.