“The good news for the members of the graduating class who plan to enter the ordained ministry is that you don’t have to invent your own Gospel. All of the church hopes you will be imaginative and resourceful. It doesn’t expect you to be original. Actually, it rather discourages originality with respect to core convictions.”
These words were delivered by church historian, David Steinmetz, to the 1997 graduating class of Duke Divinity School. These are helpful words. The “core convictions” of the church of Christ actually belong, in every respect, to Christ Himself.
Over the course of 30 years, we have established a year-round Sunday School ministry for all ages at Covenant Presbyterian Church. While once common in American Protestant churches, this ministry is becoming increasingly uncommon. Many have dropped Sunday School entirely, have transformed it into a ministry of fellowship-only or outreach-only, or have decided to offer classes sporadically or on days other than Sunday. This is an important ministry to us, and we encourage you to stay after the worship service and make Sunday school a regular part of your life at Covenant. Visit the foyer or the website (cpcchatt.org/connect/sunday-morning) to learn more about the classes offered.
Our Essentials Sunday School Class is a year-round class deliberately focused on the core convictions of Christianity and the core conviction of Reformed churches like Covenant Presbyterian. This class rotates through an annual schedule of topics in three categories: Christian beliefs, the history of the church, and elements of the Bible. Essentials is chiefly meant to care for three kinds of people.
First, this class is designed for friends and visitors who, while willing to visit Covenant for worship, are not sure if they are willing to stay for Sunday School. This class is an opportunity for them to meet the pastor in a setting that, by its very nature, is meant to introduce core convictions of the church.
Second, this class is designed for those who are contemplating making Covenant their church home. For some, Essentials will serve as a “precautionary,” just-to-be-sure step before they commit to becoming a member. At Covenant, a “membership” class is not a requirement for church membership. We ask those considering membership to reach out to our Congregational Care Pastor, Eric Mullinax (visit cpcchatt.org/about/how-to-join for more information). Of course, every year, the Essentials Class covers topics important to those considering membership (like the membership vows). Essentials, however, is not itself a requirement for membership.
Thirdly, this class is designed to serve the regular attendees of Covenant. Because Essentials rotates on a year-long schedule timed in conjunction with all of our other classes, everyone knows that core topics are taught each year. With this in mind, we are in the process of placing all of these topics on the church calendar. Essentials is designed in such a way that, even if you have been at Covenant for a long time, you can drop in to the Essentials Class to catch one or two topics, and then drop out to return to your regular Sunday School class. For instance, it is very common for a young married couple to be very uninterested in the topic of infant baptism early in their marriage, and very interested in infant baptism later in their marriage! Similarly, it is common for someone to love their Reformed church, but still grapple with questions about predestination, Presbyterian church government, the charismatic gifts, or denominationalism. You can count on these topics being covered every year.
Generally speaking, Essentials is not a person’s regular Sunday School class. This class repeats every year, and is meant to serve the purpose of introducing core doctrine, fundamental church history, and Bible basics. Essentials also serves to introduce people to the pastor, along with short introductions to various elders, Ministry Team leaders, and Sunday School teachers. Our hope is that you make one of our other Sunday School classes your “home” class. We love the ministry of Sunday School, and strongly encourage you to stay after worship. For some, Essentials will help make this a reality.