Tuesday, July 8, 2008

the rite of conversion

We follow a disciple-making process in our church that has been influenced significantly by practices in the ancient church. Specifically, what we're attempting to recover in the disciple-making process pertains to the "event" side of spiritual growth. In the church of the 20th and 21st century, the most significant events pertain to the moments of conversion and baptism. The first has most often been experienced in individualistic terms while the latter has layered in a communal dimension. What was truly unique in the ancient church was the practice of communal rites of passage along the way. To be precise, the ancient church observed two rites of passage (these were communal in nature) prior to celebrating the rite of baptism. This is specifically what we have tried to recover in our church's process of disciple-making.

As I've described the idea behind this to others, they have expressed interest in the specific content of these rites of passage. What makes one rite different from another? What are the varied purposes which each seek to fulfill?

An easy way to answer these questions is by simply observing the liturgies of each rite of passage. Because of that, I thought it would be of some interest to provide here in this space the text of each rite of passage. Today's rite is called the "rite of conversion". If you follow the link below, it will lead you to a PDF document you can download. The PDF contains the exact text we used with a person in our community who recently went through this rite of passage. As such, you will see his name in the liturgy (Borja). You are welcome to use this liturgy in your community if you wish, but, of course, you will need to replace Borja's name with the name of the person concerned and adjust the male pronouns if needed. If you do happen to use this liturgy, I would be most appreciative if you could let me know and fill me in on how it went, etc.

Tomorrow, I'll post the second rite of passage we use, called the "rite of covenant." For now, here is the rite of conversion, available to you in PDF format.

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