Tuesday 8 September 2009

The Lost Art of Catechising

Whatever happened to the use of catechisms in the land of England and among English Christians? Before we go a little further I had better explain what a Catechism is.

Pr 22:6 ¶ Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Some Bibles have a cross reference to the word 'train' which suggests a meaning of 'to catechise'; this verse refers to the training up of children. So, what does catechise mean?

1.To instruct by asking questions, receiving answers, and offering explanations and corrections, - esp. in regard to points of religious faith.

2.To question or interrogate; to examine or try by questions; - sometimes with a view to reproof, by eliciting from a person answers which condemn his own conduct.

The philosophy of this method is crucial to dynamic discipleship in the church. In many areas Maria and I feel that we have been robbed of truth as many things have been simply withheld or not told us by Christian leaders over the years. Catechising is one such area. How does this work practically?

We as a family aim to have our evening meal together around the table at 6.00pm or there abouts and I give thanks for the meal (1 Timothy 4:4-6) and then after the meal we each get out our Bibles (including the children) and and we read out loud one question from the Westminster Larger Catechism and some of the Bible verses that are referenced to it. The children are involved in the discussion around the particular question and it greatly sharpens up Maria and I as well. At the end of the conversation we ask for prayer requests and we close by all praying. This means that family worship is established, the children are instructed and this forms an excellent corporate 'quiet time'.

It would greatly benefit churches also if they based their instruction of children and the youth on the Larger and Shorter (Shorter is generally for children) Westminster Catechisms. Especially if they had Sunday School before the main morning service service for instruction for the adults and children in seperate classes; this should then be followed by the whole family worshipping together for the whole service. This includes the children staying in for the preaching...preaching is the high point of worship and children should not be deprived from hearing preaching. Why? Romans 10:17, 'Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God'. How can the faith of children grow if they never hear preaching.

May the lost art of catechising be recovered in the church of God!

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