Pointers for Using The New City Catechism
We have invited our church family to join us in using the New City Catechism as a Gospel-Centered equipping tool for the home because the home should be ground zero for gospel training (Deut. 6:4-9; Ps. 78:1-8; Eph. 6:4). But what is a catechism? A catechism is simply a tool that uses questions to teach biblical truths in an orderly way. For instance, the first question was: “What is our only hope in life and in death?” The question for week two is: “What is God?” You can view the catechism or download the catechism App at www.newcitycatechism.com.
Now I suppose the thought of leading any kind of biblical instruction in the home can be intimidating, and I imagine that fear is one of the primary reasons that so many people don’t ever try to have a family devotional time. If this is true of you, don’t talk yourself out of trying this before you give it a chance. Here is some encouragement to go along with some practical pointers.
- Pray before leading. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who will convict, guide, glorify and change hearts and minds. Don’t make this into a godless and therefore, fruitless task.
- This is not an easy and quick-fix. Our minds wonder. Our children seem to have ants in their pants. The result: We wonder, “Is this doing any good?” Don’t give up. I have found that if you stick to it, your children will start to expect it and even ask to do it.
- If leading, be patient with yourself. No one should expect that you are going to deliver a wonderful sermon or lecture. Let the catechism do the bulk of the work and just concentrate on doing it consistently and being an eager facilitator.
- It doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Usually five to ten minutes will suffice. But then again, if your family is engaged, run with it and see what the Holy Spirit does.
- Repetition is a key learning component so don’t move on too quickly. The goal is not to cover material and move on, but rather to do it several days a week so that the truths begin to sink into the mind and heart. This is why there is one question for every week.
- Helpful questions will bring life to the discussion. The beauty of the catechism is that you don’t have to prepare much but you will need to breathe some life into it. Ask simple follow up questions like: “What does this mean?” “Why should we think that?” “How should we live because of this truth?” One of the byproducts of this time should be that it helps you become a better teacher.
- Don’t be discouraged when you don’t know. If you don’t know an answer, just admit it and find someone who does know. Or learn together by using the scripture and ponder the question together as a family.
- The App is better if you are able to access it. The printed copy is enough, but the app has a video, commentary and a prayer of response that could be done on separate days.
- This should not replace your daily Bible reading and prayer. If it is a catalyst to helping you read and pray – great, but you need to be feeding yourself and then leading your family.
- Carve out the time and do it consistently. “The signature of mediocrity is not the inability to change, it’s chronic inconsistency.” – Jim Collins – We had to ban the TV, the IPad and the Computer in the morning so we could make this a priority and have the attention of our children, but it has been worth it to create the expectation that we will consider divine and eternal truths together at least five times a week. As an individual or as the leader of a home, if you don’t discipline yourself to carve out the time, you have no one to blame but your own person. This responsibility of truth in the home is eternally serious. I hope you use this as a means to a God-glorifying end.