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Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way Paperback – April 1, 2010
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From the Back Cover
Recovering an Ancient Practice for Modern Evangelicals
Historically, the church's ministry of grounding new believers in the essentials of the faith has been known as catechesis--systematic instruction in faith foundations, including what we believe, how we pray and worship, and how we conduct our lives. For most evangelicals today, however, this very idea is an alien concept. Packer and Parrett, concerned for the state of the church, seek to inspire a much needed evangelical course correction. This new book makes the case for a recovery of significant catechesis as a nonnegotiable practice, urging evangelical churches to undertake this biblical ministry for the sake of their spiritual health and vitality.
"Packer said that the greatest challenge for the twenty-first-century church was to recatechize and disciple believers. These contributions from two of our best Christian thinkers help us to do precisely that. It will help you to see how to make not just converts but, as Jesus tells us, disciples."―Chuck Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship
"More than a call to recover a neglected practice, Grounded in the Gospel provides concrete advice to us all for dedicating ourselves anew to rooting the next generation in the great truths of the faith."―Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Theology, Westminster Seminary California
"I want to prod parishes of all denominations to listen to Packer and Parrett's cries and constructive proposals to better equip new believers. This is an urgently needed book!" ―Marva J. Dawn, author of Is It a Lost Cause? and Talking the Walk; teaching fellow in spiritual theology, Regent College
"At last, a book that tells local churches how to fulfill all of the Great Commission! I highly recommend this book to pastors and church leaders who want to encourage Christian intelligence and maturity in their people."―Warren W. Wiersbe, author of the "BE" commentary series
"This book emphasizes two critical factors: learning is important, and catechesis is about the holistic development of the whole people of God. Christian learning needs to make a comeback in the church. This book will help."―Linda Cannell, academic dean, North Park Theological Seminary
J. I. Packer is Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College and an senior editor for Christianity Today. Best known for his bestselling classic Knowing God, Packer is the author or editor of more than fifty books.
Gary A. Parrett is professor of educational ministries and worship at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and the coauthor of A Many Colored Kingdom and Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful.
About the Author
J. I. Packer is Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College and an executive editor for Christianity Today. Best known for his bestselling classic Knowing God, Packer is the author or editor of more than thirty books.
Gary A. Parrett is professor of educational ministries and worship at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and the coauthor of The Many Colored Kingdom.
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The book argues for a return to this method of Spiritual Formation and training, and I'm convinced that some form of it needs to be happening in every local congregation. There are numerous reasons fighting against its prioritization, but the main one is evangelization, or "church growth", at "real growth's" expense. You can grow both ways; a focus on one does not negate the other. Another issue is simply ignorance of this method. Therefore, Packer and Parrett spend ample time discussing its historical roots, and proven success, before really turning to the "how to" section.
The meat of the book in setting forth a vision of Catechesis for a local church, is:
Chapter 5 "The Gospel as First Importance"
Chapter 6 "Three Facets of the Faith"
Chapter 9 "Moving In and Moving On"
These chapters help frame a basic Catechesis program, one which sets forth the Gospel message/kerygma as primary, then uses the Lord's proclamation in John 14:6, "I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life" as a paradigm for long-term Catechetical training. Chapter 9 sets it forth as:
1. Protocatechesis: First Glimpses of the Gospel
2. Catechesis Proper: Formal Grounding in the Gospel
3. Ongoing Catechesis: Further Growth in the Gospel
This book will be difficult for "low church" traditions (Baptists, Bible churches, Charismatics, Pentecostals, etc.) to receive, given that much of the time, anything associated with "high church" traditions (Roman Catholics, Anglicans, etc.) can be confused as "bad". This couldn't be further from the truth. Everyone is "doing catechesis", but the question is, "is it good, helpful, and most importantly, biblical/historical"? I think Packer and Parrett make their case that to live out a life-long Christian Faith, we need a Catechesis program that can prepare us as such.
This book hits it out of the park, and is food for the long journey of Christian discipleship and growth. Highly recommended to all Sunday School teachers, Discipleship/Spiritual Formation Leaders, and Youth/Childrens Pastors.
Packer and Parrett have laid out a step by step road map on how to catechise the preachers and teachers who can then catechise the faithful. We Christians tend to think that we are all on the same page but we're not. This book not only points to the right page but lays out how to get there.
This is not the quickest read you'll ever enjoy but it's worth the work.