What is a Catechism?

What a rich time of celebrating our risen King together this past Sunday. Though we can’t be together in person due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the gift of joining our voices, minds, and hearts each week is surely one evidence of God’s grace to us during these shifting times.

As you may have noticed, for the past few weeks our liturgy has included corporate readings from a type of document that might be somewhat unfamiliar to you: a catechism. A few weeks ago we read together:

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 Savior Jesus Christ.

The next week:

Q: What is God?

A: God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.

These both come from a document called the New City Catechism

What is a Catechism?

A catechism is a type of exploration & explanation of the Christian faith that our fellow Christians have been using for centuries. Think of them as an extended statement of faith, arranged in a question/answer format to help us learn and understand. Essentially, they are rich, concise, time-tested summaries of what the Bible teaches.

How Do I Use It?

There are several ways to put these rich documents to use. One way is to simply read through them. As part of your daily or weekly routines with the Lord, consider working your way through the New City Catechism (and attending Scripture references) to reflect on what the Bible says throughout its pages. Online at the catechism’s website, each question and answer includes a Scripture reference, one ancient and one contemporary devotional reflection, and an accompanying prayer. What a great guide to your daily time with God!

Second, try your hand at memorizing portions of the catechism. Depending on your background, this may seem like a large task. But one of the reasons these documents were created and shaped like they are is to aid in memorization! Start small. Be consistent. Pray for God’s truth to sink down into your soul.

Third, make it a part of your family’s worship. These documents are tailor-made for sparking conversation with your family. If you’re looking for creative ways to get your kids involved, check out Songs for Saplings — a music ministry that has put much of the New City Catechism to song. These are great for kids (and adults too!). 

These days are no doubt trying and uncertain for many of us — and in many different ways. It truly is shocking to think about how things have changed so quickly in just a few short weeks. In this time of questions, may God continue to use his word to root us, connect us, and send us into whatever lies ahead.