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The Need to Include Catechism During Family Worship

The Need to Include Catechism During Family Worship

The Need to Include Catechism During Family Worship

The Need to Include Catechism During Family Worship

A good catechism should be a foundational part of the family worship time.

The Need to Include Catechism During Family Worship

My wife and I began to teach the Children’s Catechism to our six and eight year olds earlier a few years ago. After six months of implementing it, it was clear it has been, and will be, one of the most important things we have ever done as parents. These children already know more doctrinal truth than I did as a young adult.

It is a beautiful and wonderful thing to teach my kids the catechism, and to see them learning and memorizing it. Sadly, I have never known anyone personally, who was steeped in a catechism from their early years, but I am very excited to think of the cumulative effect of continuing with the catechism with them daily.

The catechism points are so rich and concise that once put to memory, they seem to form a structure of truth that the learner will always have in his life. It’s almost like memorizing the main points to a systematic theology book.

As Terry Johnson says, “catechisms are rich reservoirs of theological, devotional, and practical content. . . Children nurtured on the catechism will be formidable theologians in an age of irrationalism and general mindlessness.”1

It is sad that parents expect their kids to know so much secular information, but they assume that biblical matters and doctrine are too lofty for them to learn about at a young age. For some strange reason, parents often think that a child can handle math, algebra, biology, chemistry, and etc…, but they seem to always be too young to for the deeper things of God. This is nonsense, and definitely not true.

Our kids memorized and learned over 50 questions of the Shorter Catechism in only 6 months. The actual time spent in catechism is only five to eight minutes, four to five days per week. But, what an impact those few minutes will have in their lives!

Continuing through the catechism helps us to move through biblical concepts without getting stuck on the same ones for too long or not getting to others at all.

One father, that I gave a copy of Sinclair’s family devotion book, Big Book of Questions and Answers, to told me that he mainly just told his kids about Moses and Noah before I gave him the book. This might be an extreme example, but I believe many well-meaning Christian parents are guilty of something very similar. Often, they know they should do something, but don’t know where to start. Then, once they start, they run out of material quickly because they were just relying on some of the lessons that they thought their kids would enjoy. However, this is not the case with a parent who is teaching through a catechism.

Teaching a catechism helps a parent to provide a nutrient-rich, well-balanced diet of biblical truth. It also takes all the stress out of wondering what to teach the children. The catechisms are already structured and well-planned. Much thought by some great men of God have gone into creating catechisms like the Shorter Catechism. So, instead of spending so much time on wondering what to teach a child, a parent can, with the ease of clicking print, begin catechizing their children.

Catechism, a key part of family worship

A catechism is extremely simple to teach, memorize, and review. Ask my kids what they learned in Sunday School last year, and sadly, they will have no clue. Ask them to repeat the catechism, and you’ll get an earful. It really works.

This method was used in the earliest centuries, lost, and revived in the 16th century by the Protestant Reformers. Luther, Calvin, and Bullinger all wrote catechisms. Later the Westminster Confession of Faith was written by the collection of the Westminster Divines and became the most common catechism. Even later, as Baptists realized the power of a catechism, they wrote their own London Baptist Confession of 1689.

All of this was done as a measure to instill doctrine into believers and it worked. Hopefully, we will once again realize that it has worked and still will work if we get back to it.

In 1928, the Presbyterian Church had 17,000 youth who had memorized the Shorter Catechism and had their names published in the Christian Observer.1

It has been done by hundreds of thousands of young people, and today’s child is no different. It is truly not whether a child can learn this type of information, but today it is more about whether a parent is willing to teach it.

References

1. Terry L. Johnson, The Family Worship Book: A Resource Book for Family Devotions (Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1998), 11.

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My New Experience with Family Worship

My New Experience with Family Worship

My New Experience with Family Worship

My New Experience with Family Worship

My New Experience with Family Worship
God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and 4 children. Until I read the assigned readings for a class I took in seminary (Give Praise to God, The Family Worship Book, and The Big Book of Questions & Answers), I believed I was accomplishing the task of bringing my family up in the faith.

While I had been incorporating aspects of family worship in my home, there was not a clear or consistent plan of action. My children have memorized the Apostles’ Creed, much of the Shorter Catechism, and I would pray with them individually before bed, and sometimes read various passages. Much of this was done with each one of them individually here and there, but not all together. Often, I attempted to accomplish this while putting them to bed. However, many days efforts were minimized to just a brief prayer.

After learning about family worship, I was stricken with the conviction that my efforts, while noble, were glaringly insufficient. My eyes were opened to the opportunity that was before me every day, at my own house, to shape the spiritual life of my family. I began to realize that every day I go off to my office at church to prepare to meet the spiritual needs of many others while neglecting the spiritual needs of my own family.

Much work and contemplation is done to assure that those under my care are being fed as they should be. However, I had not put nearly as much thought behind the feeding of the sheep that were under my very own roof.

This caused me to make some immediate changes. No longer do I wait until we are tired and try to accomplish a rushed, and random, devotion. Instead, we now gather together in the mornings as a family and start our day off with an organized time of family worship.

This has been, and I’m sure it will continue to be, one of the highlights of my ministry. There is something so special about this time together with just our family focusing on God together that is almost indescribable. It has become one of the greatest joys of each day.

Now, we have family worship five mornings per week. We begin with a time of worship. We listen to a few worship songs as we eat breakfast.

The worship music has been a wonderful way to get songs into our minds for the morning and even the rest of the day. We find ourselves naturally singing along with the songs, or contemplating the lyrics.

As breakfast ends, we put things away, and get out our family worship material, this includes a Bible, the children’s Catechism, The Big Book of Questions and Answers, and a copy of the Apostle’s Creed.

After the time of worship songs, we open in prayer. I, then, proceed to go through a page in The Big Book of Questions and Answers.

Next, we spend time on the Apostle’s Creed or the Shorter Catechism. When going over the Catechism some days we review the questions they already know, and some days I move on to a couple that they have not learned yet, in order that they may begin to memorize them, as well. We then end in a time of prayer.

Before I leave, I give them an activity to accomplish pertaining to the lesson that day. I have opted for something to be done each day on a regular page of printer paper. They are asked to depict an event that happened in the text, write a verse, or create a visual aid to explain the lesson. My kids greatly enjoy this task.

I give them the assignment and then when I come home from work, they are excited to show me what they have created. We do mix things up a from time-to-time. Some days, we will just do a reading from the Bible, emphasize a specific doctrine, or go over verses that we have memorized. Usually one day a week, we will even go over the previous week’s sermon together. This lets them know that I expect them to listen in church and it allows me a time to drive Sunday’s sermon into their hearts and minds even further.

This time together with my family worshiping God has been wonderful. This is a discipline that, unfortunately, I was never taught or had I been challenged to incorporate until recently. However, now I see it as one of the most important lessons that I have ever learned.

The Christian education of my children is my responsibility. As Ligon Duncan writes, “It (the family) is designed by God to be a spiritual entity and to provide for the training up of children into mature adult character.”

References

1. Ferguson, Sinclair B. The Big Book of Questions & Answers. Tain, Ross-shire: Christian Focus, 1997.“
2. James Montgomery Boice et al., Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship: Celebrating the Legacy of James Montgomery Boice (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2003), 318.

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