Last week in Kid’s Worship I promised to give the kids a word which would impress their parents and I did not disappoint.
The word “catechism” descends from the ancient Greek and Roman languages but gained a particular Christian meaning through church history to the present day. Catechism describes the ancient practice of teaching and instruction through the simple form of question and answer. Christians for generations have been distilling the essentials of the faith into this form in order to summarize the Christian faith and memorize through repetition. We have inherited some great catechisms from our ancestors in the faith, such as the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster shorter and larger Catechism.
What might one of these catechisms look like?
What is our Only hope in life and death?
That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.
First Baptist Church Dublin in Dublin, GA is going to be incorporating the New City Catechism, produced by Crossway with The Gospel Coalition into its children’s program on Sunday mornings. This project was spearheaded by Presbyterian pastor, Timothy Keller and his wife, Kathy. The catechism is based upon many of the major Reformation and Protestant catechisms with updated editing for accessibility while keeping its archaic feel.
At this point you are probably wondering, why is this important for a children’s ministry? Kathy Keller faced the question when she was serving in a challenging intercity area of Philadelphia and heard about a very successful Saturday kids program at a local church. As she entered into the meeting to see the secret for their success, half expecting to see in her words, “warm-hearted volunteers dispensing Kool-Aid, hugs and Jesus stories,” she was shocked to find two hundred kids in a room, divided by age group, learning a catechism. Read how the pastor of the children’s ministry responded when Kathy’s shock and disbelief formulated into suspicious questions,
These kids know nothing whatsoever about God, or Jesus, or sin. They’ve never even heard the words, except as curse words. We’re building a framework in their minds of words and ideas and concepts, so that when we do tell them about sin and the Savior who came to die for it, there is a way for them to understand what we are saying.
Kathy later ends this excerpt from an introduction to a published copy of the New City Catechism by saying: “The key is becoming convinced that you are furnishing your child with the mental foundation on which the rest of his or her spiritual life will be built. Or, to switch metaphors, you are laying the kindling and the logs in the fireplace, so that when the spark of the Holy Spirit ignites your child’s heart, there will be a steady, mature blaze.”
That is our goal for a children’s ministry at First Baptist Church Dublin, to produce an environment in which children will slowly and steadily have a biblical foundation laid from which we hope will spring forth spiritual fruit in saving faith in the Gospel. That is my prayer. That is our focus.
The fruit of a children’s program is not ultimately seen in how big of a crowd we can corral for an hour of fun with Xbox’s, top notch designed facilities and the latest trends in children’s ministry, but seen in years to come when we see the fruit of a faithful ministry of fire kindling which transforms into ember coals of faith within mature Christians walking with the Lord as adults.
As I have written elsewhere, our responsibility as a church is to ensure that the Gospel is deposited to the next generation, and I see this as a great tool for our children’s ministry to work towards that end.
Now for some inside house-keeping business, if you are a member or parent of a child at First Baptist Church Dublin, I want you to join me.
How this works is simple: Once you get your hands on the material, start memorizing! Ask the question, say the answer. Over and Over again. Grab a friend and say it back and forth to one another.
I am hoping that using the New City Catechism is not only living in our kid’s program but also at our church. I want to offer a few ways in which you can partner with the children’s ministry in this endeavor.
- Free Online
- On-the-go App
- Purchase The New City Catechism: 52 Questions and Answers for Our Hearts and Minds (The Gospel Coalition)
- Purchase The New City Catechism Devotional: God’s Truth for Our Hearts and Minds (The Gospel Coalition)
- Watch the complementary videos
If you are a member of the church, join us! How surprised might a 7-year old be if you came up and asked them one of these questions in the hallway? Catechism is helpful for believers of all ages to continue to meditate upon the truths of God’s Word. For example, Sunday School classes can even begin their time with a simple reflection upon the question for the week before they begin their lessons.
If you are a parent in particular, integrate this into part of your family worship. If you have struggled to implement family worship or sometimes lack direction, the New City Catechism is a great resource. Another goal of choosing this curriculum is to support and come along side of parents as they spiritually lead their children. Parents supporting their children in the catechism will help their retention of these Biblical truths.
It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit would use these efforts to instill the truths from God’s Word into the hearts of the children at First Baptist Church Dublin. Will you join me?