Laura Miller | Category: Children's Sunday School
What is a catechism? Why are we using it? And what role do parents play in a catechism program?
The use of catechisms for teaching the truths of Scripture goes back several centuries. The process of using inquiry and response in order to stimulate thought, illustrate the building blocks of a topic and reinforce through repetition is as old as the art of teaching itself. So, it’s no surprise the Reformers and church leaders put the method into practice when it came time to instruct themselves and their children in the doctrines of the biblical faith.
The elders of Three Rivers Grace asked me to implement a catechism instruction curriculum in the Sunday School classroom for the 4 year olds through 3rd grade children. I was happy to do this since our family has found memorization of the catechisms to be like the rich fertilizer a farmer might use to provide his crops as much an advantage as he is able. The Lord tills the ground of our hearts in preparation for His good seed; the harvest is His. But we are called to be obedient in training up our children in the ways of the Lord, and teaching them the Scriptures and all that they contain is part of that. While catechism is clearly not infallible as Scripture is, it does codify the teachings and thus we are able to be obedient to the call of Deuteronomy when we use this method.
Each lesson in the Building Blocks of the Faith curriculum focuses on one catechism question (perhaps two, if they are related to one another). The format allows for 3 weeks on each lesson, presenting first an explanation of the doctrine behind the question and answer and the words used. Secondly follows a lesson on the Scripture verse that supports the truth of the catechism answer; and third, a Bible lesson that illustrates the truth of the catechism answer. At the end of each series (which comprises about 5-7 lessons) we will employ games, activities and quizzing for the purpose of review and reinforcement.
John Piper offers five reasons drawn from Scripture why churches and families ought to catechize:
1. We are required to "continue in the faith, stable and steadfast" (Col. 1:23).
2. We are urged to "attain to the unity of the... knowledge of the Son of God...so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:13-14).
3. There are many deceivers (1 John 2:26).
4. There are difficult doctrines "which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16).
5. Leaders must be raised up who can "give instruction in sound doctrine and also confute those who contradict it" (Titus 1:9).
It is my prayer this catechism instruction will be a means whereby the parents and children of Three Rivers Grace will come to know the Scriptures more intimately and the doctrines with more confidence. There are many accounts of situations where early memorization of biblical truths through catechism have been used by the Holy Spirit to instruct individuals later in life – even being the vehicle the Lord uses to bring His elect to Him.
For more on the use of catechisms in biblically based churches, see
A Baptist Catechism by John Piper http://www.desiringgod.org/about/our-distinctives/our-beliefs/a-baptist-catechism
An Encouragement to Use Catechisms, by Tom Nettles, http://www.founders.org/journal/fj10/article3.html
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