Sunday, June 16, 2019

Catechesis is not rocket science. . .

Many times we find ourselves hard pressed to define what it is we are to do.  We know we ought to do something.  But we are not sure what it is that we are to do.  So we end up either doing nothing or waiting to do something until it is too late.  Such is surely the case with catechesis.  As a pastor I have encountered parent after parent who waited to baptize a child, pick a church, pray with a child, or teach the faith.  They were waiting until they saw interest in their children or until the child could choose what the child wanted.  They were waiting until things all fell into place (especially with respect to baptism) and family and everyone could be together or on board.  They waited too long.  The child grew up outside the faith, without an identity as a child of God or an example of what it means to believe and live out the Christian faith.

Catechesis is not rocket science.  I know.  It is an old expression.  But it is still true.  It means that it is not so difficult that only a few know what it is or how to do it.  It means that we can know what it means to raise our children in the faith, a series of several basic things all within the grasp of every family.  So, if you are one of those who is waiting, stop waiting and start catechizing.

Take your children to church.  This is the most basic step.  Show your children that worship is part of your life as a Christian and model this example to them.  Let them come to know the house of God as a familiar place, the rhythm of the Divine Service as a familiar pattern, the language of the liturgy as their own vocabulary, and the people of God as their own brothers and sisters in Christ.  Let them come to know their pastor as their pastor and shepherd.  Let them come to know the voice of God read and preached from the Scriptures as the voice of the Shepherd who knows them and whom they know by His Word.  Show them how to participate.  Read the words, sing the hymns, bow, pray, kneel, sit, stand, with your attention on the Lord whose house you are dwelling.  Hold their hands together when we pray and point to the words on the page of hymnal and service folder so they may learn to read, hear, follow, and internalize the Word of God.

Pray with your children and pray for them.  At home, begin the day with prayer, a ritual prayer that they can identify and learn as morning prayer.  Pray before meals, giving thanks to God for what He has provided.  Pray in times of stress, fear, doubt, worry, joy, happiness, and thanksgiving.  Pray at evening and bedtime, again in ritual form so that they identity these prayers with these times and learn the words so that they can pray them.  Children learn by repetition.  You do not need to be creative.  You can always begin with the Our Father as your prayer.  Teach them to say "Amen" at least in the beginning, until they can learn the rest of the words.

Read to your children the great stories of God's mighty deliverance.  Read them the Bible.  Yes, it is a good thing to have picture Bibles and children's Bibles but some of them abridge and alter the stories from God's Word almost to the point of them being unrecognizable.  Read them the Bible.  Read them the lessons that will be read when they worship on Sunday morning.  Read them key passages that they can learn to memorize.  Use the Psalms in your devotions.  Use the Scriptures to answer their questions about things spiritual and things physical, things that have to do with daily life and the big things which challenge us.  This is not simply instruction for head knowledge but so that your children come to know the voice of God's Word as the most reliable source of what is true now and will always be true, the Word of the Lord that endures forever.

Sing hymns at home.  Teach your children those hymns.  Yes, Jesus Loves Me is fine but a child's mind is like a sponge.  Teach them the parts of the liturgy.  Teach them the great and sturdy hymns of old that were there before they were born and will be there after they die.  Teach them what they will sing on Sunday morning.  Show them the book.  Use your computer or CDs to help introduce them to the songs of the faithful that have proven their value by their endurance.  You can do this.

Read to them the Catechism of Luther.  No, you don't need to start with the more elaborate and extended treatments the flow from Luther's words but Luther's simple words by which they will come to know prayer as dear children speak to their dear Father or to fear, love, and trust in God, etc...  It will also help you address your children on the touchy subjects that will surely come up -- from the dreaded conversations about sex to the sad ones about death to tricky ones about commandments and moral truth.  Because you know the Catechism and they know it, these conversations will be facilitated.

Don't wait.  Do it now.  Start while they are very young.  Raise them up in this pattern of faith.  They will bless you for it.  This is what it means to train up a child in the way he should go.  Give them a foundation in the faith on which to grow.  And if they depart from it, they will have something to return to. . .   You can do this.  It is not rocket science.  But it may be far more urgent and important than even rocket science!  By the way.  Happy Father's Day!


Anonymous said...


Well said.

Real men catechize their children!!!

Anonymous said...

A few years after those same kids fall away from the Church, they will be back:


I would, however, like to think that confessional Lutheran Catechesis would cause any "falling away period" to be shorter and less intense than would otherwise be the case among those who were never catechized.