Catechizing? Why Not Just Teach?
The further I get into ministry, it seems to get harder the more experienced I become. I try things, they work. I try the same thing again, it doesn’t work. I try something new, it works… sometimes. I know I’m not the only one, but sometimes I like failure because it means more learning. Then again, I’m afraid of failure because of the external implications that I have no idea what I’m doing.
This isn’t just as a teacher, but as a parent too. So we ask questions, and hear answers. When it comes to faith, we ask questions and hear answers. The way Luther’s Small Catechism was written was to be a guide to the head of the household should teach the Christian faith in a simple way. We tend to make things more complicated because “It can’t be that easy.”
Catechizing is by definition teaching through questions and answers. It just happens to be that originally, the only question the kids would ask is “What does this mean?” and the parent would then read the rest of the statement. It’s as easy as reading a bedtime story, and yet we still find it hard to do. Maybe it’s because we find other things to do…
There are some great easy ways to help with teaching our kids (and ourselves) God’s Word, our Christian faith, and what God wants for our lives, but they mean small changes in our life and environment. We can ask ourselves if we want the Christian faith to be important to our kids? Then ask how we are showing them it’s important to us.
Are we reading the Bible? Are we reading it in front of them?
Do we want to hear God’s Word? Are we reading it aloud?
Are we sharing what we are learning with our kids?
Do we want our kids to attend Bible study and learn with their peers? Are we in Bible study, learning with our peers?
Do we talk about the sermon with our kids on the way home or throughout the week?
It’s all about repetition. Going through the catechism more than once. My kids ask me the same questions repeatedly and get the same answers, so answering with God’s Word should seem pretty easy (as long as I’m learning it too). This will all be training as they grow older, leave the house and later become hopefully functioning adults.
So we look to the often quoted Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Don’t treat growing in faith like a chore, but show joy in the process so the kids can imitate it. Show them where the Lord has taken you, tell them your stories and His stories too. Tell how you were trained up in the faith, and how your identity is in Christ, as is theirs, because we follow the second half of the Great Commission from Matthew 28. They’ve already been baptized, so now we “teach them everything [Jesus] has commanded” knowing that He is with us until the end of the age.
Josh Cromley, Director of NexGen Ministries