Developing Faith with Catechism

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My kids are learning so much. The three of them range in age from 9 to 12 and are tackling subjects like: Electricity, Comparative adjectives, Geology, Pre-Algebra, Revolutionary War history, and have written papers on the men and women of history like Pocahontas, George Washington, and even the ancient math-whiz Archimedes.

So much learning, so much content and yet this is only the beginning.

They’ve had to learn how to use the multiple remotes in our living room, that the milk goes back in the fridge after a bowl of cereal is poured, and that you never hug your mother early in the morning before their teeth are brushed!

With all of this memory work happening in their brains, where do we begin faith conversations? How can I capitalize on their impressionable minds with something that ties them to this faith that our family holds dear? How do I make the truths of the Gospel something they can quickly recall and use when it fits their everyday life?

Devotions are a great place to start, but with late Elementary and Pre-Teens I want them to have a great foundation that we can build devotions on as they mature and age. I’ve found something that works great for our family, and the brains of the three growing kids in our house. Catechism. That’s right, you read that correctly. Catechism.

The word “catechism” comes from the Greek word katācheō, which means “to teach, to instruct.” The word is used in Bible passages like Luke 1:4 and Acts 18:25. It can be used for any kind of teaching or instruction, but it came to refer to a specific type of teaching very early in church history. In the early church, new converts were taught the basics of Christianity by memorizing a series of questions and answers. A catechism is just that–a series of questions and answers that teach Bible truth.

For example, here are some of the catechisms we’ve learned this year; and there are many more that we will learn in the weeks, months, and years to come.

Who made you and everything? God made everything and me.

What is God like? God is our holy and almighty Creator. He cannot be seen, but he has made everything we can see.

Why did God make you? God made us to enjoy him and show his glory to others.

What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that we enter God’s kingdom through God’s cross by God’s grace.

Why does God tell us, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”? So we will rest in God and remember finished work of Jesus.

We’ve added a few catechism’s to the kids weekly spelling lists. We’ve added them to whatever vocabulary words they are learning, and I’ve thrown them into a few special “get rewarded with ice cream real quick” scenarios I create on a whim. There are many different catechisms out there, but our family settled on the wonderful NorthStar Catechism developed by my friends at Sojourn Church. You can go download a PDF of all of them and even order yourself some playing cards sized ones right now!

I think it’s pretty well stated what catechism is, and when you read over the details of them all you’ll quickly understand what they are communicating and preparing in the hearts and minds of your children. However, for clarity let me state what they most definitely are NOT.

They are NOT just another way to beat my kids over the head with more learning. They are easy to memorize, easy to learn, and fit perfectly alongside all the other things our kids have learned. If you think your own kids are not smart enough to memorize these, then you’re not giving them enough credit. It has worked for us to add catechism to what we were already asking our kids to memorize. You’ll find that they’re just different enough from what they normally memorize that it’s fun and unique.

They are NOT a way to guarantee faith in our kids. The catechisms won’t do much for their souls if learning the Catechisms aren’t marinated in their hearts by engaging in impactful spiritual conversations with their parents and others that love them. The cards are oftentimes a starting point for us, they are not the end point.

They are NOT separate from God’s Word. God’s Word is perfect and each catechism we take the time to make it clear that these answers (and many of the questions themselves) come out of the Bible. The foundation is God’s Word, and anything I can do to help bring that to the center of my kids lives, is key.

There are so many ways to teach our kids faith, and the challenge for us as parents is to find ways to make faith relevant, real, timely, and catchable to our kids. I know that the day will come when they have to decide for themselves who they will serve, but it’s my duty to help them get the right picture of what you are believing when you believe in Christ for eternity!

Things that Matter More

More

Woah, the past 12 months have been a blur. Much of what I’ve had on my heart to write, my brain has smartly kept me from posting publicly. Much of where my mind has been in this season of transition, has been written with ink on paper in a journal that I’ll treasure for the memory of God’s changing work done in my life.

In the spirit of what I’ve seen, heard, and experienced over the past few months; here is a working list of things that matter more to me than they did a year ago:

The places I visit.

The friends I keep.

The stories I’m telling.

The questions I’m asking. 

Silence.

New friendships.

Advice from trusted friends.

Time alone with my wife.

Time together with those that believe in me.

Adventures with my children.

Red-letter words in the Bible.

Resting on weekends.

Memories that last beyond the picture taken.

Written words that nobody reads.

Conversations that last longer than they used to.

Orange Conference 2014

©2014 The reThink Group, Inc. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com©2014 The reThink Group, Inc. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com

This week at the Orange Conference has been a special one. We heard things about… same-sex attraction and middle school ministry…depression and the church… why the church kills so many marriages, and everything in between. I’ve seen it all and argued both sides of nearly every point in my church ministry career, so I can appreciate an environment with tension in the air.

This conference, this week, we embraced the tension. Just some of what we heard from Reggie Joiner on the opening night summed it up:

You can KNOW God, but God is a MYSTERY

You can become a Christian in a MOMENT, but it will take FOREVER to understand what that means

You can trust that the BIBLE is true, but everything true about LIFE isn’t in the Bible

TRUST leads to stronger faith, but DOUBT also leads to stronger faith.

You should enjoy the CHURCH and you should enjoy living in God’s created WORLD.

Your BELIEFS matter, but PEOPLE matter more.

God has an IDEAL for your life, but God also uses BROKEN people.

That God is GOOD and that you should DO good.

If you’d like to take some of The Orange Conference 2014 home with you, then keep an eye out on http://theorangeconference.com/ for information on how you could purchase recordings from breakouts and main sessions from this awesome week together.

Spot the Mistake

Mistake

My kids live in a mistake filled world, and if I’m not careful they could drown in enough mistakes that they can’t tell right from wrong over time. As their parent, it becomes my mission then to adjust the error in a biology teachers opinion about when life begins, correct the low expectations of what their friend says are good qualities in a girlfriend, and showing grace to a neighbor confused about what makes them valuable.

When the people in their schools and the kids in our neighborhood begin to interpret life in ways that are not God-centered, I then have to spot the mistake and correct them. This isn’t about standing on soapboxes and shouting the truth to a random passersby. This isn’t an advocacy for more Christian schools or more church services.

This is me suggesting that we could engage our world in a way that helps our kids begin to define the mistakes all around them, because eventually they’re going to have to do this on their own. The key lays in getting your kids to open up and tell you much of what’s happening in their own lives.

Here are some things we’ve done in our home to try and “Spot the Mistakes

  • Find the times to talk. There are times where we can get our kids to share about school, and neighborhood things. There are also times that don’t work. Find what they are for your kids and then bounce down to this next tip…
  • Ask some questions. Real live questions like: “What were you talking about with them?” I’d suggest you don’t wait til you have teenagers before trying this method. It has to be a question that you sincerely care about the answer, and not an answer you’ll use to later punish them.
  • Don’t act shocked. Your kids will say some things that are crazy. I’m talking crazy on both sides of right and wrong. If you learn to stay calm and listen, I guarantee you that you will eventually have the opportunity to speak truth towards something less than crazy.
  • Know your stuff. Don’t just get good at finding the mistakes, get good as bringing wisdom when it’s needed. Becoming wise, begins with knowing Christ and the ways of the wise. Could I make a parenting suggestion? Read Proverbs. Read it every day. Read it with your kids. Make wisdom like a brother and sister

1 Timothy 1:5-11 // The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love, love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.

It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I ve been put in charge of by this great God.