Our Practice of Baptizing Children

Few things in life are more joyful than witnessing our kids come to faith in Christ. Some of our pastor’s favorite moments are getting to talk to children about their love for and desire to follow Jesus. Along these lines, one question we often get is: How do I know my child is ready for baptism?

It’s an important question – baptism is one of the most significant events in the Christian life. This article – written by the elders of Providence Church – seeks to provide some guidance for parents, as well as establish some norms for our church that we think will lead to greater discipleship of our children.

This article answers questions like:

  • How Do I Know if My Child Is Ready for Baptism?
  • How Are We Preparing Our Children for Baptism at Providence?
  • What Do I Do if I Believe My Child Is Ready to Be Baptized?

If you are a parent with young children, we invite you to read through this article as a way of better understanding our practice as a church. If you have any questions about baptism and how you can engage your kids in these discussions, we would love to talk with you!

Ecclesiastes Guide

This reading guide was created in the summer of 2021 for our preaching series in the book of Ecclesiastes (Finding God in a Fallen World). The main part of the book presents to us the teaching of a wise sage. He has seen and done it all (really), and now he is here to share what he has learned. But he doesn’t spoon feed us. Like a philosophy professor, he asks questions and creates tension. His words are like goads, provoking and prodding us.

He wants us to ask the question: How do we find God in this puzzling world?

The answer is refreshingly simple, but getting there is a difficult journey. Along the way we will have to confront our false hopes and limitations. We will have to let go of our desire for control. Then, from that place of humility and trust, we will learn afresh how to enjoy our lives with God. 

The purpose of this resource is to help us read patiently and reflectively, because that is the only way to receive the wisdom offered in this book. 

This guide offers a simple plan for reading, studying, and reflecting on the scriptures. Each week there will be three touch points that focus on the passage related to the sermon from the previous Sunday. Here’s the flow for each week:  

  • Day 1: Read the chapter(s) and take note of key words. You could probably read more than once.
  • Day 2: Read the chapter(s) and answer a few questions designed to help you dig deeper into the text.
  • Day 3: Read the chapter and answer a few questions designed to help you reflect and apply what you are learning.

We pray that this guide would help you meditate on God’s word and learn to enjoy him right where you are.

Galatians Devotionals

Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia is an urgent plea for the centrality of the gospel in all of life (Galatians 1:6-8). Jesus plus anything else is a false gospel (2:3-6). Though our situation is different, the urgency and importance of this message still rings true. 

At the beginning of this letter, Paul says that Jesus has rescued us from “the present evil age” (1:4). That is the old world, the world of fallen humanity. Then at the end of the letter he says that Jesus has ushered in “new creation” (6:15). That’s what is at stake: Two worlds, two ways of relating to God, two ways of defining yourself, two ways of living life. 

We spent three months as a church working through this letter in sermons, small group discussions, and Bible studies. We wrestled with the context in Galatia and how it connects to our own day (e.g. 2:11-14). We too are “prone to wander,” as the old hymn says. We seek assurance and belonging and righteousness apart from Christ, through various kinds of law-keeping and boundary markers and self-justification (2:17-21). We all have a tendency to live according to the values and systems of the old world. 

This letter called us back, over and over, to the foundation of the gospel, our unity in Christ, and our new life in the Spirit. Now that we are free from the old system of seeking glory from one another, we are free to love one another as God has loved us in Christ. That is the true fulfillment of the law. That is new creation. In our terminology, that is the centrality of the gospel in all of life. (1:11-12; 2:17-21; 3:1-3, 27-28; 5: 13-14, 25; 6:14-15). 

This collection of devotionals, written by members of our church, expresses the profound and far-reaching implications of these themes. They were written in real time, two a week, as we made our way through the sermon series. They offer unique insight into the text itself, and also provide a rich variety of personal experience and wisdom. 

This work represents the diversity, creativity, and beauty of our church. In that way, it is a celebration of the freedom that is at stake in this letter. Because of Jesus, we are free to serve one another in love, and to celebrate every evidence of grace in anyone’s life. This is our mission as church: to help each other believe and apply the gospel in every area of life. “For all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them (6:16).

Life of David Guide

This reading guide was created back in the summer of 2019 when we preached through the life of David (1 Sam. 16 – 2 Sam. 22). David is one of the most familiar people in the whole Bible and really in all of human history. His rise to the throne and his reign as king is a story that is more riveting than anything you could ever read in a novel or see on Netflix. It’s a story that has it all: courage, conspiracy, romance, friendship, heroism, betrayal, unlikely twists, deep lament, soaring worship, battle scenes, acts of compassion, and sacrificial love.

But the point of David’s story is not to entertain us. The point is to instruct us about our own lives, to show us the importance of our character and our heart, to convince us of our need for a Savior-King, and ultimately to lead us to Jesus Christ, the Greater King David. How could God call David a man after his own heart, especially given David’s deep flaws and grievous sin? That’s the question we tried to answer in this series as we looked at David’s story together as a church.

The guide creates three touch points throughout the week leading up to Sunday’s sermon. Here’s the flow for each week: 

  • Day 1: Read the chapter. (That’s it. Five minutes. You could probably read it twice).
  • Day 2: Read the chapter and answer a few questions designed to help you dig deeper in the text.
  • Day 3: Read the chapter and answer a few questions designed to help you reflect and apply what you are learning personally.
  • Following Sunday: Listen to the sermon for that week as our pastors teach on the chapter you have just studied throughout the week.

We pray that this guide would help you meditate on God’s word and that God’s covenant faithfulness in the life of David would speak to you in a fresh way.

D-Group Gathering

What Is a D-Group?

A discipleship group (“D-group”) is a small group of people from within the same Gospel Community who meet weekly for the purpose of spiritual formation (growing in godliness). These D-Groups are not separate from GCs, rather they are playing a specific role of formation in the GC. If GCs are leveraging more of the communal aspects of formation, then D-Groups are geared towards the discipline of formation. D-Groups will focus on cultivating the practice of three spiritual disciplines: Scripture reading (Gospel Content), confession and accountability (Gospel Community), and prayer for missional life (Gospel Cause).

What Should a Typical Meeting Look Like?

Content should be centered on God’s Word. Therefore, each group will decide on a book of the Bible and agree upon the pace they will go through it (a chapter a week is a good starting point). Every member of the D-group reads the passage several times throughout the week and writes out some reflection thoughts. This is important so that people are actually getting into God’s Word and it isn’t compartmentalized to just the meeting time.

As the norm, you will discuss the passage for the week, talk about the details of your lives, and pray for one another using the Discussion Flow template below. As you go from week to week and build relationships with each other, you are following up on conversations, inquiring about how one another are doing spiritually, and holding each other accountable for growing as disciples.

Jacob & Joseph Guide

This reading guide was created back in the summer of 2018 when we preached through the lives of Jacob and Joseph (Genesis 25-50). The stories found in these chapters are full of gospel implications, history, theology, and insights into our own lives. This guide is designed to give you a simple plan for reading, studying, and reflecting on the Scriptures. 

Each week there will be three touch points before the leading up to Sunday’s sermon. What day you do each touch point doesn’t matter, as long as you focus on the assigned chapter for that week. Here’s the flow for each week: 

  • Day 1: Read the chapter.
  • Day 2: Read the chapter and answer a few questions designed to help dig deeper in the text.
  • Day 3: Read the chapter and answer a few questions designed to help you reflect and apply what you are learning personally.
  • Following Sunday: Come to gathered worship on Sunday and hear the pastors teach on the chapter you have studied throughout the week.

We pray that this guide would help you meditate on the word of God and that the story of Jacob and Joseph would be read and seen in a fresh way.

Christian Recovery

Most of us want to change, but we just don’t know what to do next. Growing in the gospel is a process of working out what God is working in us (Phil 2:12-13). In other words, change requires dependence and humility, but it also requires effort on our part.

This book explores some of these fundamental principles of Christian growth in the format of a twelve-step program. The twelve steps laid out in this book are a simple yet comprehensive way to rigorously apply Jesus’s core teachings about powerlessness, humility, dependence on God, confession, prayer, reconciliation, and service to others. These steps are a way of saying, “I can’t fix myself, but God can. Seek him first and these other things will be added.”

Put differently, the steps don’t replace or add to the gospel of Jesus Christ (as if such a thing were possible). Instead, the steps help us apply it to all areas of our lives. And by doing so, we are building on his sure foundation, that will help us withstand the storms of life.

Premarital Guide

Engagement is a momentous milestone for any couple—one worth celebrating! Engaged couples are about to enter into a whole new chapter of life, which is fun and exciting, but it also stretches you in significant ways. Though the excitement and energy of engagement is understandably focused on the wedding day, our desire is to help couples prepare for their marriage. We want married life together to be as fulfilling and as glorifying to God as possible. That’s what our premarital process is all about.

This six-session premarital counseling guide (along with supplemental books and tools) is used by mentor couples within our church to lead engaged couples through a process of preparation and prayer. Our hope is that these couples come away with biblical insights, practical tools, theological development, and coaching so that they are better equipped to be the husband and wife that God desires.

Journey to the Cross: Devotions for Lent

As Christians, we know that Easter is perhaps the most important day of the year. But when we wake up on Easter Sunday, we often struggle to grasp the significance of the day and find ourselves on the outside of the celebration looking in.

Journey to the Cross moves us closer to the heart of Easter through forty days of Bible readings, prayers of confession and thanksgiving, and daily devotional readings. WRiThis forty-day devotional takes a deeper look into six central themes of the Christian life: repentance, humility, suffering, lament, sacrifice, and death. Journey to the Cross moves beyond “doing penance” and helps Christians focus on Christ’s sacrifice for us—the real meaning of Easter and the reason we celebrate.

Journey to the Cross serves as a combined liturgical guide and devotional—presenting a call to worship, confessional, gospel reading, and daily devotional with application. This compact devotional guide meets the needs of Christians who want to prepare their hearts for Easter but don’t know how, and it answers the growing desire of many to be connected to the broader history of the church.

At its heart, Lent is all about Jesus—his suffering and sacrifice, all powered by his love for his people. Taking the time to meditate on the cross will give readers the opportunity to re-center their hearts, reframe their lives, and rekindle their love for Christ this Easter.

GC Shepherding Tool

We have all experienced how easy it is to go through the motions of leading small group discussions and activities, but drift from our calling to disciple and shepherd people. In light of that, this simple tool offers a simple activity that has helped our leaders pay careful attention to the flock. The activity is to keep an updated list of the people in your small group and to review it weekly. It is as simple as it sounds, but it requires discipline, discernment, and follow-through.

Here’s what you do: Schedule a time each week that you are going to update and review your list (possibly dividing up your group with your co-leader). Take a moment to reflect on each person … what’s going on with them and how are they doing spiritually? Note any thoughts or action items that come to mind (see attached doc). Then pray for your people by name.