Teaching the Catechism in the HomeJan 21, 2024
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”
– 2 Timothy 3:16
One of the great practices of the historical Christian church has been the training of children through the use of a catechism. As Oxford explains, a catechism is, “a summary of the principles of the Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.” There is an incredible richness to the discipline of using a catechism to instruct your children in the home, and we highly recommend it!
Catechizing your children works best if it is done on a daily basis, and we promise that it doesn’t take a lot of time. We encourage you to remember that your children were given to you by God to steward for His good purposes, and this certainly includes teaching them the truths of our faith. “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Christian children are full of questions about God from their earliest years. Was God born? How big is He? Can God see everything I do? Can He read my mind? Who wrote the Bible? Why did Jesus have to die for my sins? A good catechism has answers to all of these questions and many more. Sometimes parents who desire to educate their kids in the doctrines of the faith don’t know all of these answers themselves, and teaching through a catechism can be a wonderful way to learn them together (or at least give a good review).
Learning a catechism also acts as an excellent shield against false teaching. Many churches in America today offer little doctrinal instruction. A child who is reared on the Scriptures and a good catechism will be much better prepared to recognize false and dangerous teachings that they encounter in life as they grow in maturity and enter the world. "Reading and memorizing Scripture and the catechisms of the church [as a family together at home] results in incredible development of children, both spiritually and intellectually” (Voddie Baucham, “Family Driven Faith”).
Not all catechisms are created equal, so it is important that you choose one that is doctrinally sound. Also take into consideration the ages of your children; some catechisms are written for the very young, while others are best suited for older kids or even adults. Talking with your pastor about what he might recommend can be helpful here (and he’s also a great resource for you when you hit tough questions!).
Catechisms come in a variety of media: books, workbooks, online resources, and even music. Feel free to utilize a combination of things for your family, especially when you take learning styles into consideration. Catechisms can be used in a one-on-one environment or in groups, so feel free to make this time a family thing. Reviewing during morning devotions or family worship is a great way to make this happen. In our family, we do a combination: Derek usually teaches our kids one-on-one, but we review what they’ve learned together.
We’ve personally found it helpful to designate roles for the two of us in catechism instruction. Derek likes to do the teaching (having Dad do this part is ideal, but we realize this isn’t a reality for everyone and that’s okay!), and Amy does review. We choose a specific time for both of these each day so that our kids always know what to expect.
One great thing about catechisms is that you can start very, very young. For the very young, you can even find music with catechism songs to use.
If you do start teaching when your kids are toddlers, we encourage you to keep it short and sweet, light and fun, and be consistent. Keep the questions simple, and reinforce it with music if you can. You will be amazed at the truths - and vocabulary - that little minds can soak up!
If you’re starting with older kids, you can find multiple catechism options. Some of the language can be a bit old-fashioned, but this makes it a fun challenge and a little extra educational. Kids are much more capable than we expect, so don’t feel boxed in by “recommended ages” either. They can be a great guide, but they aren’t set in stone. And if you’ve never personally been through a catechism before, we encourage you to consider learning one as well! The wells of knowledge and doctrine they provide are deep and rich.
Teaching a catechism to your children can bless your family in a myriad of ways: you get to learn together, grow together, build up your faith and knowledge of the truth, model discipline and study to your children, and plant vital seeds of a biblical worldview. As your children grow, you can point them back to the truths they received when life is difficult or they have more questions.
Teaching your children a catechism also makes it more likely that they will do the same with their own kids. What a blessing it would be to hear the voices of your grandchildren speaking the same truths you taught their parents. What a legacy!
Learning a catechism as a family is a wonderful way to study God’s Word together. The process doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. It’s very easy to find a simple, consistent rhythm that works with any schedule. While church classes can be a great reinforcement, it is the duty of fathers and mothers to ultimately teach their children the truths of God’s Word. Even if you don’t feel as if you have a good grasp of the information yourself, we implore you to not be discouraged. Rather, use this opportunity to shore up and strengthen your own knowledge and faith. Martin Luther said he never fully mastered the teachings of the catechism: “I must still read and study the Catechism daily, yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the Catechism, and I do it gladly.” May this be said of us and ours as well.
- Daily catechism instruction in the home is a fun and easy way to teach your family historical, biblical doctrines at any age.
- Catechism instruction can start at a very young age and is never completed!
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