In 2021 at FBJB, our kids, students, and adults will began a new curriculum during our Wednesday night services that has become the backbone of our discipleship for the year. This new curriculum is based on an ancient method of teaching children and adults about the Christian faith. It’s called the New City Catechism, an effort by The Gospel Coalition to reintroduce the concept of catechisms as a way to teach the core doctrines of Christianity in a fresh, conversational way.
What is a catechism?
Depending on your church background, the word catechism may evoke vivid memories (either positive or negative) or it may be completely unfamiliar. A catechism, at its most basic level, is a collection of statements on the doctrines of the Christian faith. Our English word is from the Greek word katecheo meaning to “instruct” or to “teach.” To catechize means to teach biblical truth in an orderly way. This is done in the form of questions with answers accompanied by biblical support and explanation. The Roman Catholic Church uses catechisms, but Protestants have used catechisms to teach Christians for centuries, and the New City Catechism is based on Protestant catechisms dating from the Reformation.
Why are we using a catechism for our Kids’ Ministry curriculum?
The call to make disciples of all nations begins at home, and the New City Catechism curriculum and program will become the main way we teach the Christian faith to our children. We used various programs in the past that were all excellent resources, including Awana, but we believe that this new approach is better for our kids (and their families) because it teaches the story of Scripture in a systematic way. Our children, just like us, are daily confronted with differing views about the purpose of life, the nature of the world around us, the value of human life, and where to find hope in the midst of difficulty. Understanding the storyline of the Bible is critical in responding to these views, but so is the ability to communicate the “why” behind the story. We believe the New City Catechism teaches an entire biblical worldview in a way that is both easy to understand and easy to communicate through memorization. For example, here is question #4 from the New City Catechism:
Question – How and why did God create us?
Answer – God created us male and female in His own image to glorify Him.
The verse to memorize along with this Q&A is Genesis 1:27.
What about our Student Ministry?
Our middle and high schoolers face challenges of ideas, identity, and purpose, and we want to equip them with a biblical worldview able to not only withstand but thrive among the challenges they experience. Therefore, our student ministry will also use the New City Catechism at the same pace as the Kids’ Ministry, but with each question and answer applied to their unique teenage experience. On Wednesday nights, students will still meet together in the Attic with food, games, and small groups, but the weekly lessons will be based on the New City Catechism curriculum and schedule. Throughout the week, we encourage and challenge our students to study and practice these Q&A’s and the Scriptures accompanying each because the Bible is God’s truth.
What will this mean for me as a parent?
On Wednesday nights, your kids and students will be introduced to a new question and answer from the New City Catechism. During their separate classes, this Q&A will be unpacked, tied to Scripture, and practically applied. Through the resources provided for your family and through the free online app, you can engage with your kids and students throughout the week with the truths they have learned and you can help them further memorize and better understand what they’ve been taught. Our prayer is that this curriculum will not only teach your kids and students needed truths, but also lay a foundation for you as their parents to further disciple them inside the walls of your house and out in the world they experience on a daily basis.
How will the adults participate?
The New City Catechism was specifically made as a children’s curriculum, but we believe that adults will benefit from this systematic study of Scripture. During our traditional adult Bible study time, a new question and answer with accompanying Scriptures will be taught following the Kids’ ministry schedule. The same truths taught to our kids and students will be taught to adults in age-appropriate lessons. Adults will be encouraged and challenged to memorize and practice the questions, answers, and accompanying Scriptures along with our kids and students so that the Word of God may dwell in them richly to exalt Jesus in their daily lives.
What will a Wednesday night service look like?
Our service schedule will continue as it has been for several months. We’ll meet together for an introduction of song, prayer, communion, or fellowship. During this time, the question and answer for the week will be briefly introduced. After our time together, our various groups will separate: our kids to the Big Room, our students to the Attic, and the adults to the Sanctuary. We believe this structure allows the creation of further unity in our church as our youngest and oldest sing, pray, and take communion together, and learn and memorize the same questions and answers.