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This Thursday, I’m looking forward to being on a panel with Christine Hoover, Irene Sun, and Beth Urton at The Gospel Coalition 2016 National Women’s Conference (TGCW16). We’ll be discussing the topic “Teaching Theology to Children” and I thought I’d share about one of the resources I’m thankful we used when our children were young.

Prior to the birth of our second child, I worked for a year as our church's Children's Ministry Director. One of the personal benefits was learning about a variety of different curriculums, parenting books, children's books, music CDs, and other resources that were useful to me as a new mom. To my surprise, one of the resources that has helped me most in teaching my children is the Children's Catechism.

catechism picYou may be asking the same question I did when I first heard about it, What's a Children's Catechism? A catechism is simply a series of fixed questions and answers used to instruct children in the precepts of Christianity. There are a few online versions (Presbyterian and Baptist have similar versions) and Great Commission Publications has produced an entire curriculum for the catechism. It has even been put to music by Judy Rogers.

I have to admit when I first learned about the catechism, it sounded a bit old-fashioned and formal to engage with my children using a question/answer format. We regularly read the Bible to our children, so I also wondered about the necessity of using it as a teaching tool. Now that my children are older, I look back with fond memories of our times sitting around the dinner table reciting these questions. It also paved the way for the family devotions that we continue to share together now. Here are five ways learning the catechism benefited our family:

Reason 1: Simplifies Complex Truths

One of the greatest benefits of teaching the catechism was that it gave me simple ways to explain complex truths. The question, "Mommy, who wrote the Bible?" can be difficult to explain to a child. The catechism provided a succinct answer, "Chosen men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit." Often as parents, we think we must teach all the details when our children ask spiritual questions, but the catechism helped me to realize that children learn best with manageable amounts of information. Just like we cut up food in small bites, they digest truth best in child size portions. The catechism gave me the words and phrases to help me do that in our conversations.

Reason 2: Teaches the Language of the Church

I remember sitting in church one Sunday with my four year old daughter. At some point in the service the word covenant was used and she excitedly pulled on my sleeve and whispered in my ear her catechism answer, "An agreement between two people." Learning from the catechism allowed her greater involvement in the service because she understood the words being used. Just as we teach colors, numbers, and letters, it is helpful to introduce words used in church so that it will be a familiar and welcoming place for our children.

Reason 3: Prepares Them to Answer

When we teach children, it is easy to get in the habit of being the one who does all the talking. The catechism allows children the opportunity to participate in learning by repeating the answer. The back and forth nature of the catechism provides an opportunity for both parent and child to participate in the learning process. For our family, it began a spiritual conversation that continues as normal and natural part of our times together.

Reason 4: Provides a Treasure Map to Follow

I'll admit that one of my underlying fears in teaching the catechism was the misguided notion that somehow we might overdo their spiritual training. We take them to church, read them Bible stories, memorize verses - do they really need one more way to learn about God? However, as I've reflected upon it through the years, I now view these combined efforts as providing a treasure map for my children. If knew of riches buried in a field, I would do everything possible to make sure my children knew the exact location of the treasure. I would give them every detail I could remember in hopes that they would find it. I know of no greater treasure than Christ, and so I hope to provide every means (the catechism just being one of those) to lead my children to the riches found in Him. We can join the psalmist in his promise, "We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,and the wonders that he has done" (Psalm 78). Every day, in every way possible, let us tell our children about more about the goodness of the Lord.

Reason 5: Becomes a Fun Time of Family Fellowship

Another reason for my initial reticence to teach the catechism was that it just seemed like it might make family dinners pretty laborious. Did I really want to spend our family times together forcing my children to recite these questions and answers? In actuality, these became sweet times of laughter with our children. One evening, about nine years ago, I took out my video camera and filmed John (age 3) and Emma (age 6) as they answered. These were the days before iPhones, so the quality isn't the best, but hopefully it provides a window into our (imperfect) process.


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8 thoughts on “Teaching Theology To Children”

  1. Ruth in NZ says:

    Thank you for this precious post and video. The video takes the rest of it out of the realms of “theory” and into the realms of “Imperfectly doable!” So often we assume that the people we look up to, (or those who have it “together enough” to write a blog) do things so perfectly and we imagine accordingly. Children seated, watching attentatively, so serious and diligent to memorise the catechism questions. But your video gives hope that “their children are just like mine” figity, distracted, forgetful and full of confident joy! As a mother of 5, who has taught catechism to my children on and off over the years I really enjoyed the video showing the “reality” of the wonderful encouragement you had already given. Thank you.

  2. Kayla horne says:

    Thank you so much for everything this week! What an encouraging time! I’m excited to put this into practice with my children!

  3. Enoch says:

    I started our 4 and 6year olds on the Cathechism for children and it has been very interesting. We have not being regular but I intend to go back.

    One of my fears is not to raise moralistic children who know about biblical facts but have no relationship with Christ. So I always pray through this they will come to a knowledge of the gospel. Q1& 2 has really stuck with them and we have had the opportunity to explain further how God created all things. Example I was once asked if God created our car. Of course they have been taught God created all things (What other things did God create?)…and that was a good opportunity to explain how God created man and gave man wisdom and skill to create things(inanimate things).

    Thanks for this article.

  4. Tim Karr says:

    Thanks for sharing! Maybe the TGC can make the children’s catechism into an app–please!

  5. Sara says:

    I really enjoyed the panel discussion! Thank you for all the work that went into the discussion. I have been unable to find some of the resources discussed most specifically the book about questions to ask yourself to develop family culture. I think I must have gotten the author confused. Not sure that rings any bells?

    1. Melissa Kruger says:

      I’m so glad! Once the audio is up, I’ll try to consolidate all the different resources from the panel. I think it should be in a couple of weeks. And, I’ll ask the other ladies on the panel if they remember a resource like that. Thanks so much for joining us!

  6. Sara says:

    Thanks so much Melissa!

  7. Ched says:

    Excellent. Thanks for posting this. The video made my morning. You could include these additional instructions in a “parent’s guide” to the catechism, i.e., “How can you glorify God? John, put the drink down. How can you glorify God?”

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Melissa Kruger


Melissa Kruger is a wife, mom, and the author of The Envy of Eve and Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood. She enjoys teaching women the Bible and serves on staff as women’s ministry coordinator at Uptown PCA.

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