Introduction - Dive into Doctrine: The Canons of Dort
We offer the Student and Leader's materials below in the hope that they can be helpful to churches who desire to study the doctrinal content of the Canons of Dort, whether as a celebration of their 400th anniversary in 2018-19 or as a regular congregational practice.
Dive into Doctrine developed out of our church’s recognition that traditional catechism teaching was no longer working in our context. Recognizing that the Reformed confessions are an important part of our heritage and identity, the council of Community tasked the visioning team with re-imagining what catechetical instruction might look like in our context.
The visioning team identified a number of important principles that led to the development of this curriculum:
- Reformed doctrine based on the Reformed Confessions is central to our identity as Reformed Christians.
- Doctrinal education is needed not only for youth, but the entire congregation.
- It is important for young people to learn why doctrine is important from their elders.
- Doctrinal education ought to be accessible for all people at an age-and-ability appropriate level.
Based on these principles, our visioning team made the decision to develop a series of five-week curricula based on the Confessions and Contemporary Testimonies of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, with the intention that our church as a whole would devote one month per year to studying these confessions. Our church is currently on a five-year cycle, alternatively studying the Canons of Dort, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, the Belhar Confession, and Our World Belongs to God.
We have designed the classes to appeal to a wide range of ages. A skillful leader will be able to adapt the lessons for any group of students ranging from grade 6 to mature adult. At Community we held classes for the entire congregation and have found great profit in the practice of intergenerational sharing and storytelling. We have often received feedback along the lines of “I came because I wanted my kids to learn. I stayed because I realized that if I wanted this to be important to them, it has to be important to me too.”
These materials were designed for our church. Churches should feel free to adapt them as they see fit. Please understand that these are in-house notes and are offered merely to be a helpful starting point, not as a definitive guide for how to teach an intergenerational class on the Canons of Dort.
—Rev. John C. Medendorp, November 12, 2018