What in the World is a Catechism?!?
I started this catechism quest with little or no knowledge of what a catechism really was. I thought it was just something Catholics did. How wrong was I? Really wrong! What is catechism? The greek word Katecheo really means oral instruction. So a catechism is an instruction on the foundational truths of our belief in God. Memorized in a way that you can retain it for your whole life. Wow, who doesn’t need a catechism? On a recent Breakpoint podcast, “The Lost Art of Catechesis ” Chuck Colson quotes Packer and Parrett describing catechesis as “the church’s ministry of grounding and growing God’s people in the Gospel and its implications for doctrine, devotion, duty and delight.” I’m all for it, but the challenge is to find a version I both completely agree with and completely understand. These things are old. That is great, I love antiques. But not so much when I want the children to really know the foundation of their faith while they are still young.
My goal is to reach the children where they are and show them how it applies to their lives. Bible size truths in child size chunks…for the auditory, visual and kinetic learner. I have been very dismayed at the teaching/learning tools available to teach catechism to young children. A group of evangelical ministers, in 1798, were moved to create a baptist catechism for the children in their congregation. They called the it “A Catechism for Boys and Girls.” I used this catechism as a starting point. I also used the The First Catechism of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster Shorter Catechism, Heidelberg Catechism, an open source Small Catechism of Martin Luther and a small Wesleyan Catechism. None of which seemed well worded and completely right for children of the 21st century. But the more I delved into the catechisms, the more I recognized the power of the question answer format. As I spoke to people the answers would pop up into my head and defend my faith. I was utterly amazed and encouraged to continue.
Language isn’t the only problem with catechisms, through my research I stumbled upon the diverse nature of Calvinism and Wesleyan theories. What are they? Among other things, they teeter at opposite ends of the balance between mans free will (Westlyen) and God’s sovereignty in determining who is to be saved. I have come to the decision that I best fit in the tension between these two views. Yes, God is sovereign and in His sovereignty He has given man a choice. Since most catechisms are Calvinistic or Catholic in nature (with old words), I started from scratch. Gleaning from those who came before and with mentorship from my pastor, we constructed the strong foundation for a 21st Century Catechism for Kids.
In my quest to reach the children, I want to allow God’s people to use my catechism to create material that will better reach the children. Use your gifts and add the color, splash and creativity needed to attract little eyes. Please don’t change the catechism or sell it, but create and share. (Please ask for permission to sell something amazing that uses the catechism. I would love to see it!)
21st Century Catechism for Kids (click to download)
If you don’t like or aren’t sure of this catechism pick another one from the list of Baptist catechisms I found on the web. I’m now creating and looking for recourse to help the children to remember these truths for life. So far I have:
** “The Big Hurry Question,” by Zachary F Carden. This is a wonderful series of creative songs to help the children remember the Catechism. He doesn’t have all of the questions, but what he does have is ingenious.
**I also love Big Truths for Little Kids by Susan Hunt.
**Judy Rodgers has a cool CD of Songs to help remember the catechism.
**Every Good Path has a Catechism Widget for your blog or website.
** Songs for Saplings has songs about basic Biblical truths. (I have a link on the side-bar of my web page.)