Why Should Churches Use Catechisms?

Nearly twenty years ago when I was preparing to get baptized I went through baptism classes. During those classes we went through a catechism. My church linked baptism and catechism together, but this does not have to be the norm. Apart from my experience, what reasons do (or should) churches today have to study a catechism? Why should we go through an age-old tradition?

Or a better question is: Why are churches not using catechisms? And what effect does this lack have on the congregations?

I cannot answer this for every church or denomination. I can only answer according to what I have seen within the Christian communities that I have been part of over the past decade. Before we can dive into the importance of catechism studies we need to know what its purpose is.

The Oxford Dictionary defines it as (emphasis added):
1. A summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for religious instruction.
1.1 (in Roman Catholic use) religious instruction in general.
1.2 A series of fixed questions, answers, or precepts used for instruction.

Synonyms include: “system of belief, set of principles, statement of beliefs, profession of faith”. (Definitions and synonyms taken from OxfordDictionaries.com).

Here is my answer to “what effect does this lack have on the congregations?”

The patterns that I have seen within today’s churches truly terrifies me. The lack of Bible knowledge and therefore the lack of theological knowledge. God’s Holy Word is our primary source of God communicating to us as His people. If we want to hear what God has to say then we need to read what He has to say. But where in the Bible do we start? Everyone has his/her own answer to this. And for believers it is different than for soon-to-be-believers.

A Christian catechism is a series of questions concerning many aspects of Christian theology (i.e.: what we believe about certain topics as the Bible lays them out). While a catechism will never get a Christian to read through the entire Bible, it does help us understand in simple terms what the Scriptures say about God, creation, sin, redemption, etc.

Why should churches use catechisms? First of all, a proper catechism lays out the questions according to themes or theological concepts. Secondly, a catechism can assist leaders and learners in studying Christian beliefs more effectively. And lastly, a catechism is rooted in Scripture, with a Bible reference backing up each and every answer.

Recently I came across a new catechism for Evangelical Christians, The New City Catechism. This specific catechism is perfect for churches or denominations that do not already have their own catechisms. It is “a modern-day resource aimed at helping children and adults alike learn the core doctrines of the Christian faith via 52 questions and answers.”

What resources does your church use to teach the basics of Christian beliefs? How can studying a catechism change your church? How can it change your life as a true, Bible believing, Christian?

 

The Bible Project

This month my church (during evening services) is going back to the basics of studying the Bible. We are watching a video series on Old Testament Survey, as presented by Dr Kevin Peacock. The series is very much like an online college course, without the academic textbook reading or the writing and research assignments.

Last week the website The Bible Project was mentioned and my pastor looked into it. And yesterday he showed two clips from the site on Genesis (chapters 1-11 and 12-50). The clips are interesting and informative. As each major aspect of the book is talked about, they are drawn out and demonstrate how each one is connected to the others.

This is definitely a resource that I fully intent to use as we continue studying the context of the God’s Holy Word.

Take a look at The Bible Project. I’d love to hear what your thoughts on it are.

Prayer Challenge Eighty-Two

DEVOTIONAL: “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” Matthew 9:37-38, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Praying for the church and praying for revival. The Great Awakening of the 1700’s began with prayer: a small town in Germany did not necessarily pray for change in the world around them, but for change within their church (see page 217-218, The Battle Plan for Prayer). When “dissension and infighting” turns to “joy, unity” within the church people around us begin to see “the mighty power of the Holy Spirit” at work. This was the beginning of the modern missionary movement that converted John and Charles Wesley as well as Jonathan Edwards.

“Ordinary people praying in extraordinary fashion.” This has happened throughout the ages, from the apostles to the Great Awakening. Kendrick says this is our prayer. “For you, for us, for the church, for the world. And ultimately for the glory of God.” How are we continuing praying in such a fashion?

If we desire for revival around us, for Christian revival in the world, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us. “There’s no reason why we can’t see God’s Spirit poured out in abundance on us…” “There’s no reason why we can’t see” transformation of the “whole cultural landscape” around us.

Pray for the harvest. Pray that labourers heed Jesus’ call. Pray that we hear and obey the call to be labourers in the God’s harvest.

Prayer Challenge Seventy-Three

DEVOTIONAL: “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” Matthew 9:37-38, ESV.

CHALLENGE: On the offensive… Praying against evil, sin, sickness, or in troubled times is necessary defensive praying. But we also need to pray for the good things in life and the spread of the Gospel message. Kendrick puts it this way, “Part of a goof prayer strategy is knowing how to pray against evil.” But we also need to “focus on going on the offensive in a positive way, meaning praying for the advancement of light, love, and truth.” Whether it is your pastor, a missionary or even you, a prayer warrior can tell you he or she has a “battle plan for prayer”.

The Gospel should be our primary focus:

“Asking God to open doors for the gospel, to send forth laborers into the harvest field, to pour our His Holy Spirit in revival, to fill us with His love and the knowledge of His will, to use our spiritual gifts in His service, and to raise up a generation who will honor His name. Spiritual warfare is about standing our ground against the enemy and taking new ground for the kingdom.” (The Battle Plan for Prayer, Kendrick, 2015. Page 161.)

What is your prayer strategy? Are we praying for the lost around us? For God to equip our churches? Are we praying for more missionaries to heed the calling to enter the harvest field?

Prayer Challenge Sixty-One

DEVOTIONAL: “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:14-15, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Unity or Division? In the family, in the nation, in the church—no matter where divisions arise unity hides. And where unity is divisions are not. Concerning unity Kendrick points to the “ungodly people” who built the Tower of Babel of whom God said, “And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them” (Gen 11:6b). What about in the church? Are we unity as a people to which God can say the same thing?

“United prayer is power,” Kendrick writes. “But prayer from a divided people…well, not so much.” Before we can pray in unity, we need to “pray for unity.” “Then when the momentum builds, and when others see it, we proclaim that our unity come because of Jesus Christ…”

How is our church unified? What can we do to further our unity for the sake of the Gospel?

Prayer Challenge Fifty-Eight

DEVOTIONAL: “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” 1 John 3:21-22, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Keys of Prayer… “Certainly we know prayer is not a magic genie lamp.” But God still desires for us to come before Him in prayer. The last fives keys of prayer are linked to our relationship with fellow Christians and, above all, God. “Praying in agreement with other believers” is important in our spiritual growth. When we gather we learn to pray for others in ways we just cannot do alone. “The power and beauty of united prayer is a gift we too often leave untouched and unopened.” How often do we gather specifically to pray as a church, or as families?

“Praying while fasting” helps to removes certain distractions in life. “Praying from an obedient life”“…while abiding in Christ”, and “…while delighting in the Lord” remind us of what prayer and our Christian journey is truly all about. “When God becomes your greatest delight and first love…then you are in a position for Him to bless you with your heart’s desire.” What distractions do we face daily? What can we remove to grow in obedience, abiding and delighting in the Lord Almighty?

The Study is Here

Our long anticipated Bible study is finally upon us. Back in November 2014 an idea came to: I wanted to write Bible study material to teach others the basics any good and Bible-centred seminary teaches. (As material is written we will post updates with links to the pages.)

There are a lot of good reference material out there, as well as the bad. Many different schools of Christian thought (theological and philosophical) are currently floating around in churches and other Christian institutions. Every commentary series and other resources available are rooted in a particular theological school of thought.

How did you choose a series to work with? Simple. I choose The New American Commentary (NAC) series because of who wrote the volumes. These men have dedicated their lives to studying God’s Holy Word and they continue to. They have solid theology based upon God’s Word to use and not based upon human pre-assumptions or desires.

Also, I had the privilege to meet with several of the renown authors over the years.

What about other commentary series? Now, although I am using the NAC that does not mean that there are no other “good” series out there. In fact there are too many (as in dozens) for me to consider all of them, never mind study them.

That comes to another reason why I picked the NAC.

Some of the commentary sets available are way too in depth, with facts and word studies, for laypeople. Too much information can be overwhelming, especially if you start with it. That is not saying you cannot use them, in fact I recommend such material for advanced students.

Other commentaries only have the bare bones of Scripture explanations. Again, I am not saying you cannot use them. I own one such series that is helpful for any one to lead a small group (Bible study or other church group) in their home or at church.

The NAC is a nice middle ground for any serious student of the Bible. And by student I do not mean academic student, I mean any person who is serious about going deeper into God’s Holy Word.

Our study In God’s Holy Word  begins with Genesis, and our study in Genesis we are beginning with an Introduction to Genesis 1-11. Click here to navigate “In God’s Holy Word, The Study”.

May God bless you and open our eyes to new insights and revelations found In God’s Holy Word.