Many newcomers to Christianity are fearful of making a commitment to the church until they have all the answers to their questions. Photo: Dominique Landau
In a workshop on teaching the faith to beginners, the Rev. Jenny Andison of Toronto’s St. Paul’s Church, Bloor Street, said that many newcomers to Christianity are fearful of making a commitment to the church until they have all the answers to their questions. “They want to have it all figured out first,” she said, and they feel they cannot commit to the church. But yes they can, and we need to help people get to that point.”
Her co-presenter, Dr. John Bowen, director of the Institute of Evangelism at Wycliffe College in Toronto, said that the separate steps of committing to Christ personally and publicly can be likened to a couple’s decision to marry versus their wedding. “The commitment is an important moment but it is like a couple’s decision to get engaged. This decision is a private, personal, intimate moment before they make the promises in public that they previously made in private.” There could be an opportunity here to tell newcomers that they might want to get engaged to Jesus, he said.
In his preparation courses he approaches the commitment to Christ not as blind faith or a leap of faith but a deliberate choice.
During the session, the Rev. Susan Bell identified a large gap in biblical knowledge among Anglican youth at Havergal College, the Toronto Anglican girls’ school where she is a chaplain. “They are not familiar with the story of the prodigal son, for example,” she said. In her chaplaincy she is emphasizing bible study and the rich legacy of bible stories.