This class is a presentation of the basic truths of Christianity, the distinctive features of Presbyterianism, and the application of these matters to church life here at Antioch Presbyterian Church. Over the course of three months (twelve weeks), the following topics are addressed:
Part One: Basics of Biblical Christianity
1. Class Introduction & Presentation of the Gospel
In the first part of this opening session, we cover the twelve-week class outline. Then, we spend some time considering the glorious gospel of God’s saving grace in Christ Jesus. Participants will leave this session with a clear plan for the remaining sessions and an understanding of what we mean by “the gospel” here at Antioch Presbyterian Church (PCA). For a blog-post version of the gospel presentation given in this class, click here.
2. How Do We Know What We Know?
This session identifies and explores the source of our theology (i.e., knowledge of God). Sometimes referred to as the ‘fundamental principle of knowing theology,’ we refer here especially to God’s special revelation of Himself by the written Word contained in the Old and New Testaments (66 books) of the Holy Bible. This class session considers revelational epistemology and the Reformation-era doctrine of sola scriptura (i.e., by Scripture alone). We unpack the relationship between the Word, the church, tradition, theology, and individual interpretation, especially as these relate to our faith and practice. We will also situate the concept of God’s general revelation of truth within a revelational epistemology.
3. How Do We Express What We Know?
This session considers the use of creeds, confessions, and other documents that summarize the doctrinal contents of the Bible, giving special attention to the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms. Some churches refer to “Statements of Faith.” How do these “Statements” or declarations differ from historic creeds and confessions? Are such documents useful? What place or function do they occupy in the church, both speaking generally and speaking with reference to Antioch Presbyterian Church (PCA) in particular?
Part Two: Commitments of Reformed Christianity
4. God’s Sovereignty in Salvation
This session handles the so-called “Doctrines of Grace,” sometimes referred to as “the five points of Calvinism” and expressed in the acronym TULIP. The goal of this session is not to give an exhaustive or comprehensive account of Reformed soteriology (i.e., doctrine of salvation), but rather to show that (and how) our distinctive commitment to God’s sovereignty in man’s salvation is faithful to the Scriptures.
5. God’s Sovereignty in Worship
This session handles the so-called “Regulative Principle of Worship.” In short, this is the view that we are to do in worship only that which God commands us to do in worship. In this session, we will define what we mean by “worship” (and especially “corporate worship”), identify those things (i.e., elements) that God commands us to do in corporate worship, and discuss those things (i.e., forms and circumstances) which are – by necessity and for the sake of good order – left up to our discretion.
6. God’s Sovereignty in the Church
This session presents Presbyterian church government as that form of organizing the visible church according to God’s Word (i.e., by divine right). What does the word “Presbyterian” mean? Why is Antioch called a “Presbyterian Church”? What does this mean for our congregational life and cooperation with other congregations in our region, country, and around the world? We will also discuss the Reformed distinction between the visible church and the invisible church.
Part Three: Being in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)
7. Church Membership in the Presbyterian Church in America
In this session, we go over the five membership vows of the Presbyterian Church in America. In addition to presenting and explaining the membership vows (and their biblical basis), we compare our denomination’s approach to church membership to other evangelical denominations and associations, as well as to other Reformed churches.
8. The Proper Mode & Subjects of Baptism
In this session, we expand upon earlier sessions to discuss the administration of baptism in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). What basic commitments do we share with other evangelical, Bible-believing churches (e.g., Baptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, etc.)? How does our understanding and practice of baptism differ from other denominations? What modes (e.g., sprinkling, pouring, immersion) are considered valid in the PCA? What modes are considered proper to be performed in the PCA? Whom do we baptize in the PCA? What is the biblical basis for these things?
9. The Lord’s Supper
In this session, we expand upon earlier sessions to discuss the administration of the Lord’s Supper in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). We especially focus on the purpose of the sacrament, how to prepare to take the sacrament, when not to take the sacrament. We will also discuss practical considerations, such as what elements are to be used, how they are to be distributed and consumed, and what it means to “fence the Table” (as opposed to practiced closed or open communion).
Part Four: Church Life at Antioch Presbyterian Church (PCA)
10. Evangelism & Discipleship Practices of our Church
In this session, we discuss four of our five areas of ministry focus as a church: Expository Preaching, Biblical Worship, Parish Evangelism, and Discipleship. We will focus especially on what we mean by “Parish Evangelism” and how our goals and methods of Discipleship apply what has been discussed earlier in the course. In this class, we will discuss the rhythms of corporate church life (morning and evening Lord’s Day worship; midweek prayer meeting), and why we do these things as a church. Note that there will be an opportunity to ask questions about “Expository Preaching” and “Biblical Worship,” though we will have substantially covered those areas earlier in the class and in our discussion of Discipleship.
11. The Individual & the Family in the Church
In this session, we will continue our discussion on the Discipleship aims and methods at Antioch as well as present the Church’s commitment to Pastoral Care as an area of ministry focus. Having established the “why” of the rhythms of corporate church life in the previous session, we will in this class develop “what” individual members and member households can expect from the pastors and elders in terms of pastoral care, and what is expected of members in terms of participation in the life of the Church. We will also briefly discuss in this session the proper functioning of a diaconate and the place of Christian Education in the broader ministry of the Church. Finally, we will cover what kind of engagement regular attenders (who do not pursue membership) can expect.
12. What Antioch Is Not
In this closing session of the Membership Class, we will have time for Questions & Answers as well as go over a number of “hot-button” issues that frequently come up in evangelical and Reformed churches under the heading of “What Antioch Is Not.” Having spent eleven weeks on what Antioch is committed to, it is fitting for us to be clear that there are certain matters of church life and applied theology that are left open to the individual and family (as introduced in the previous week) as well as certain trends or dynamics that we hope to avoid at Antioch. If your curiosity is piqued, you’ll have to come to the class to hear more! However, if you cannot make this class, Pastor Groff would be happy to sit down with you to discuss further what we mean by “What Antioch Is Not.”
Following the conclusion of the Membership Class, interested participants will be encouraged to consider joining Antioch or enlisting the help of the elders to identify another suitable local church home to which they can unite themselves visible as members. Those who remain undecided about church membership will be encouraged to deepen their study as they continue regularly attending Antioch or another evangelical and Bible-believing church.
If you have any questions or would like audio recordings of the classes, please contact Pastor Groff by email at email@example.com, or call the Church Office at 864.670.9000. Thank you!
* Please note that this class outline is subject to change at any time.