Bringing Back The Catechism

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
-First line of the Westminster Shorter Catechism

The earliest memory I have is of my dad telling me that he loved me. Actually no, the first memory I have is of my dad explaining to me that my fish was gone because the bigger fish got hungry while we were on vacation. But the second earliest memory I have is of my dad telling me he loved me. Funny thing is he didn’t normally say it like that he usually asked me this question, “who loves you buddy?” To which, as a little boy, I would enthusiastically reply, “daddy loves me!” Cute right?

In my more rebellious teenage years I hated my memories of this. But most teenagers rebel against the things their parents did just for the sake of rebelling. But in my mid twenties I really started to see how formative this was for me. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home so no one ever told me God loved me. Nonetheless, I knew He existed at a young age and remember the conviction I would get when I would do wrong (see Romans 2:15). Still, when I became a Christian at age 19 and was convinced for the first time that God did love me, I had no trouble accepting this. All the images of God as a Father figure within the Bible were not difficult for me to believe because one of the first truths I learned as a child was that my earthly dad loved me. He not only told me this but he showed it with his actions, buying me ice cream and toys. Not only did he tell me this, but he enforced comprehension by asking me to repeat it back to him. Essentially he was catechizing me.

My son is almost two years old and knows the answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. I look forward to catechizing more truths of the Christian faith into his moldable mind using this method of question and answer. But I often fear that this practice is falling out of fashion. I pray it will be restored and hope my steps to do this with my family will be a small step in that direction.

For those of you with children, what are you teaching them either explicitly or implicitly? Do you utilize questions to ensure comprehension? In other words, how are you catechizing your kids?

I see Jesus asking lots of questions throughout the Gospels. Surely this is one of the greatest teaching methods. Wise parents and teachers will grab hold of this and use it to their advantage. If you would like to explore this with your own children here are a few catechisms I’d recommend you check out:

The Westminster Shorter Catechism (a classic in reformed theology)

The New City Catechism (a new, but excellent catechism that was birthed out of Tim Keller’s ministry)

[Photo Credit: milos milosevic via Compfight cc]

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