Discipleship Intensive: Doctrinal and Spiritual Foundations

As “a pillar and buttress of the truth,” (1Tim.3:15) the church’s purpose is to embody the gospel before a watching world, showing as well as telling the good news of the kingdom of God, and so making visible the invisible glory of God revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  In order to be this kind of community, we need to be a people who “love from a pure heart, a clear conscience and a sincere faith,” (1Tim.1:5).

treeBut how do we produce such a people?  How do we become such a people?  The short answer is: we don’t and we can’t.  Jesus does through the Spirit and the Word (e.g., Eph.5:25-27).  But the long answer is: Jesus does this through us and in us as we apply the gospel to our life together in dependence upon him.  As we consistently and intentionally “speak the truth in love to one another,” we find our community “growing up into Christ.”  This happens organically as we share our everyday life together in Jesus.  But it is also happens through structured times of study, training, reflection and deliberate practice.

To this end, the leadership at Riverside Community Church launched a series of co-ed “intensives” in 2016 to further equip the saints for the work of ministry (Eph.4:11) and enhance our life together as the church.  We are offering these intensives again in 2017, starting with Discipleship Intensive: Doctrinal and Spiritual Foundations, which we are pleased to offer this spring on six Sunday evenings (7:30 – 9pm) from March 19th – April 30th (skipping Easter).

This intensive will be broad and basic, but also deep, designed for anyone at any place in his or her spiritual journey with Christ – from a new believer to a seasoned follower of Jesus.  Specifically, it will involve a six-week long commitment of study, reflection, and prayer.  The doctrinal component will address the most profound theological questions of God’s identity as revealed in Jesus, as well as our identity as children of Adam and adopted heirs of God’s family.  We will use the Heidelberg Catechism to frame our curriculum, which will be variously informed by writings from the early fathers and 16th century reformers – being among the most celebrated voices of the church.  The spiritual practice component will entail a simple regiment of spiritual disciplines in order to assist Christians in learning how to live more deeply in intimacy with God.  This component will focus on fixed-hour prayer and regular, selected fasting. Further details about each class are included below.

If you are interested in participating in our first intensive, please sign up here by March 12th.


 Class Schedule:

Pre-reading: Heidelberg Catechism: Q1-11, 21-23 (assigned February 28th)
Read chapters 1 & 2 of Book I of John Calvin’s Institutes and chapters 1 & 2 of J.I. Packer’s Knowing God

March 19th: I & Thou: Knowing God and Ourselves (Introduce HC Q1-11)
(HW: Heidelberg Catechism: Q24-28, 47-48; Nicean Council Statement & Creed, and the Chalcedonian Definition; Prayer: HC Q116-119)

March 26th: He & They: Trinity & Christology
(HW: Heidelberg Catechism: Q12-20; Athanasian Creed and Athanasius’ On the Incarnation, 6-9; Prayer: HC Q120-21)

April 2nd: He & Us: Redemption & Atonement
(HW: Heidelberg Catechism: Q31-36, read Sinclair Ferguson’s essay, “Union with Christ”)

April 9th: We & They: Union with God
(HW: Heidelberg Catechism: Q59-65; 86-91; excerpts from the Council of Orange and Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation [1, 2, 16, 17, 18, 25, 26, 28]; Prayer: HC Q122, 125, 129)

April 16th: [Easter – No Meeting]: HW: Heidelberg Catechism: Q37-43, 45-46, 49-50; meditate on the Apostles Creed, i.e., Heidelberg Catechism Q 23; Prayer: HC Q126.

April 23rd: Us & Them: Grace & Works (Introduce HC Q92-115)
(HW: Heidelberg Catechism: Q66-73, 75-85; Letter to Diognetus, excerpt from Everyday Church; Prayer: HC Q123, 124, 127)

April 30th: We, Them, All: Church & Mission
(HW: Heidelberg Catechism: Q92-115) 

Spiritual Practices: Daily offices/hours of prayer, selected daily readings from the Catechism, and fasting (suggested: one day or two stations)