From a Fundamentalist Church standpoint, what is its equivalent of a catechumen? In many denominations (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, Episcopalian), there is a concept called a catechumen, who takes religious education course called a catechumenate, that is taught by a catechist. So, what is the equivalent of such a role in a Fundamentalist/Bible Church? How do Fundamentalist Christians deal with prospective Christians (i.e. teaching church history, official doctrine and practices, etc.)? For Fundamentalist Christians, does that include teaching prospective Christians about the Scopes trial?

4 Answers 4


"From a Fundamentalist Church standpoint, what is its equivalent of a catechumen?" In my experience in several Protestant churches, Sunday School is the place of catechumen for young ones. The parents drop off their children in age-appropriate classrooms and the children are taught Bible stories/lessons by teachers from a church-approved lesson plan.

The plan may include any mixture of Bible stories, memorization of verses, Q&A, singing, puppets, dress-up, skits and other lively interactions, all to help bring the Bible stories to life and help the children see the lesson is for them.

This takes place as the parents are edified by the pastor in the main sanctuary.

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    So, what about adult prospective Christians? Do they attend "Sunday school" too, or do they get their own special classroom where the catechist teaches them Fundamentalist doctrines, practices, interpretations, and controversies surrounding the Fundamentalist view of the world?
    – Double U
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 15:15
  • The link in my answer was actually to adult new member from Rick Warren.
    – pterandon
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 17:42
  • @anonymous Some of the larger churches (1000s of people) may have classes for new believers, offered at irregular times during the year. Other large churches will invite the new person to a home fellowship to learn. Still others will leave it up to the people to speak one on one with the new convert.
    – Steve
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 18:54
  • Protestant churches tend to invite new adults to an "Inquirer's class."
    – Maverick
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 1:18

I would make a distinction between "catechumen" classes and religious education classes in general, such as Sunday School for children and Adult education classes such as Bible study groups. Regular bible studies for kids or adults are beneficial and continuous, with no proper end goal in sight other than ongoing growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus while "catechumen" type classes have an end goal of either baptism, membership in a local church or denomination, or both. Many fundamentalist churches hold "new member" classes which might be better titled "prospective member" classes.

I was saved quite apart from the educational programs of the Conservative Baptist Church I attended at the time. When Scripture convinced me that baptism was my next step of obedience I approached the leadership of the Church and was instructed to do 2 things to make myself ready for Baptism:

  1. Attend a "new members" class taught by the chief Deacon wherein the very basics of Christian belief (according to conservative Baptists) were gone over and baptism and church membership were explained.

  2. Give my "testimony" before the board of deacons and the Pastor.

It was a confusing mix of "being made ready" for membership in the body of Christ, which thing I was certain had occurred at the very moment of my salvation when the Holy Spirit was given to me. And a water baptism which was insisted on as an outward sign of an inward reality, insisted on as not necessary for salvation, and insisted on as a pre-requisite of membership to the point of issuing a certificate of Baptism transferable as proof to other Churches should God call one away.

I came to understand such "catechumen" classes (at this Church, at least) as a worldly affectation. In order to meet the criteria for a tax exempt status the church needed to maintain, among other things, a voting membership roll. In order to have a valid membership roll there needed to be certain requirements in place so that these could be met and membership conferred. The requirements were the new members class wherein it was "ensured" that the correct basic doctrine was at least assented to and water baptism.

I understand that this represents somewhat of a pessimistic view of the "rules and regulations" of many current Churches but I see no Biblical mandate to seek and maintain "tax exempt" status while also perceiving in such things a strong inroad of worldliness into what is a spiritual entity.


I can answer as to a nondenominational evangelical church, which may be what you are asking for.

Whereas many protestant and Catholic churches baptize infants and catechumize youth, nondenominational churches typically dedicate babies and then may hold a short, intensive class for baptism candidates as they reach an age of responsibility. The class may give an overview of the basics of doctrine. I know one church where the material is based on the pastor's modification of Rick Warren's 101 Material.

Even among pastors who may hold a Young Earth Creationist view, I haven't seen mentions of the Scope trial. Even among those who hold six-24h-days as a necessary teaching, the focus would be on believing God's word, not an opinion on a 19th century trial.

  • I thought mainline only referred to a specific type of American Protestant denominations. Catholics (Western and Eastern) baptize infants and instruct youths.
    – Double U
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 12:07
  • I should have correctly stated Orthodox Catholics, or Eastern Orthodox Christians, because the term "Eastern Catholics" can be misleading. I meant to refer to Eastern Orthodox Catholics, who also baptize infants and educate youths. I think "Eastern Christians" would be a fitting term for those Christians in the Eastern European, Mediterranean, and Near Eastern regions.
    – Double U
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 12:31
  • I'll use the right term, but my belief, at least in politics, is that mainline sometimes used to mean everything not evangelical.
    – pterandon
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 12:40
  • Would that just be non-Evangelical Christian? I wonder if Methodists from the United Methodist Church would consider themselves Evangelical or Mainline. Maybe both. Now what? Maybe it's the distinction between high-church people and low-church people.
    – Double U
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 12:44
  • I don't think the "mainline" qualifier is useful here. Many presbyterian churches that are not a part of the "mainline presbyterian church" (the PCUSA) believe in infant baptism. I don't think Lutherans are considered "mainline" nor would the various forms of the reformed church (URC, CRC etc).
    – wax eagle
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 14:30

Right of Passage At a certain age (entering teen-age years, usually) several religions hold catechism classes, at the end of which the prospective members of a church or synagogue affirm their belief (allegiance) to the Church, and are baptized (or perform some other rite of passage). {At Jewish "confirmation" or Bar Mitzvah, the child becomes a Son of the Torah.}

In Fundamental Christian churches, the procedure is similar with some minor differences. Usually, there is a series of classes for prospective members to attend, and then the person is Baptized as a show of his/her public confession and confirmation of the Christian creeds (or local denomination beliefs).

The classes may be geared toward young people who were raised in the church, and who have "been raised Christian." Or the classes may be for adults who have, later in life, chosen to become disciples of Christ. In either case, the end result of the classes is to allow the people to be aware of the major doctrines of the Church and to affirm their belief in them.

Sometimes these classes are called New Convert Classes, or Belong Classes, or Basic Doctrine Classes. Whichever, they all perform the same task: ground the Christian in the Word, and encourage a Personal Walk with the Savior, who also wants to be their Shepherd.

These classes also introduce the prospective members to the Body, the Community of believers, where they can "get plugged in" and become a vital part of the Church of Christ. There they will receive fellowship, instruction, protection, guidance, charity...Christian love. But just as important, they will be part of the spiritual choir that gives God his due worship and eternal gratitude.

Addendum Confirmation or catechumen classes are not considered the time to delve into controversial topics. They basically deal with the doctrines that are fundamental to the Christian faith which are agreed upon by the majority of Evangelical (fundamental) Christians. There is plenty of occasion during the Christian walk to discuss topics of interest but do not infringe upon eternal verities.

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