Growing up Southern Baptist, I never really heard about or knew about catechisms. A friend shared The New City Catechism with me and I started reading more about it. First, what is a catechism. Here’s the dictionary definition.
For students of church history, New City Catechism is based on and adapted from Calvin’s Geneva Catechism, the Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms, and especially the Heidelberg Catechism. It consists of 52 questions and answer and it is a joint adult and children’s catechism. In other words, the same questions are asked of both children and adults, and the children’s answer is always part of the adult answer. It is developed and promoted by The Gospel Coalition and Redeemer Presbyterian Church and is available as a pdf, as an interactive iPad app, and online. Here is an example of the first question. Each day has the question (the highlighted text is the shorter children’s version), a commentary, a video explanation, the Bible reference, and a prayer.
After researching it, our family has decided to use this in our family devotions. I felt we needed to be more intentional is discussing how theology applies to real life. We are on week 5 and it has already created some great discussions in our family. The kids are memorizing the questions and answers each week, and we are discussing the commentary. If you want to find out more about it, check out this post by The Gospel Coalition.
Why a catechism? Here is more from their introduction.
At present, the practice of catechesis, particularly among adults, has been almost completely lost. Modern discipleship programs concentrate on practices such as Bible study, prayer, fellowship, and evangelism and can at times be superficial when it comes to doctrine. In contrast, the classic catechisms take students through the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer—a perfect balance of biblical theology, practical ethics, and spiritual experience. Also, the catechetical discipline of memorization drives concepts deeper into the heart and naturally holds students more accountable to master the material than do typical discipleship courses. Finally, the practice of question-answer recitation brings instructors and students into a naturally interactive, dialogical process of learning.