Catechising Kids

One of the really helpful features of the New City Catechism is that it has been developed with both children and adults in mind.  For example, the first question and answer

Q. What is our only hope in life and death?

A. That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Saviour Jesus Christ.

The bold parts of each answer are meant for young children to learn (I wonder how old before graduating onto the whole answer?).

I’m looking forward to starting these with at least some of our children later this week.

Kathy Keller talks about catechism with kids – the reasons, joys and pitfalls on  the other side of this link.

 

Like firewood in a fireplace

Over here, Tim Keller and The Gospel Coalition are about to launch the New City Catechism.

In the article Keller notes,

Superficial smatterings of truth, blurry notions about God and godliness, and thoughtlessness about the issues of living—careerwise, communitywise, familywise, and churchwise—are all too often the marks of evangelical congregations today.  (J. I. Packer and Garry Parrett, Grounded in the Gospel)

How can we reshape the lives of people who have grown to breath the evangelical air that Packer and Parrett describe above?

Since May this year we have been looking through the Westminster Shorter Catechism on Sunday evenings and we are now three quarters of the way through the one hundred and seven questions.  During that time I’ve heard comments like, Why are we looking at this again?, and Westminster Shorter Whatichism?

Catechisms are however  a great tool for learning the basic Biblical plot-line, Christian doctrine and practice and have been used throughout the last 500 years of the church with both young children and new adult converts.

Keller lists a number of reasons why catechesis can be a particularly helpful in understanding better the faith once delivered to the saints, but I particularly like what he says concerning catechising children.

Catechesis done with young children helps them think in biblical categories almost as soon as they can reason. Such instruction, one old writer said, is like firewood in a fireplace. Without the fire—the Spirit of God—firewood will not in itself produce a warming flame. But without fuel there can be no fire either, and that is what catechetical instruction provides.

I’ve mentioned before that a great way of getting children to know great gospel truths found in the WSC are the 4 Questions with Answers CD’s that are available for download from Songs for Saplings.

Pride isn’t fussy

A while back I posted this on negative pride, the idea that those who have a low opinion of themselves seek to be the centre of attention because of it.  I came across this quote from Tim Keller this morning which I think is  helpful in this regard.

the opposite of thinking highly of ourselves is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less. 

The more I look at myself, whether it’s with boastful or degrading thoughts, I will reinforce my belief that I am the centre of my universe.  Pride isn’t fussy in that respect, it’ll let me live as the hero or the villain as long as I’m centre stage and playing the lead role.

It’s only as I think less of myself and look more to Christ that I’m truly able to defeat the pride of my heart, by allowing him to rule it.

Discerning the idols of my heart

A third way to discern idols works best for those
who have professed a faith in God. You may regularly go to a place of worship. You may have a full, devout
 set of doctrinal beliefs. You may be trying very hard 
to believe and obey God. However, what is your real,
daily functional salvation? What are you really living
 for, what is your real – not your professed – god? A 
good way to discern this is how you respond to un-answered prayers and frustrated hopes. If you ask for
 something that you don’t get, you may become sad
 and disappointed. Then you go on. Hey, life’s not over.
  Those are not your functional masters. But when you
 pray and work for something and you don’t get it and
 you respond with explosive anger or deep despair, then 
you may have found your real god.  (Keller, Counterfeit Gods, p. 169)