Many of you know that last year I encouraged our families to begin learning a catechism to provide all of us with a basic understanding of what it means to know, love and obey God. If you missed the Sunday when I revealed and explained my desire to use a catechism at FBC please listen to the sermon, Cutting a Hole In The Roof to understand my concern for this. The plan was to learn this catechism together at home through weekly family devotionals led by dads. So I met about 30 times last year with many of our dads to prepare them each week to understand and teach the catechism.
Unfortunately the plan did not work very well. Too few of our guys were able to consistently make the early morning time slot we chose for “The Ready Room” (as we called the preparation time) and I didn’t use the time well enough to make it worthwhile for our guys. Nor did our meeting together necessarily ensure that a weekly family devotional time was going to happen among our busy families. So the plan failed. That’s okay. As a church we will see many plans come and go with varying degrees of fruit.
However, the goal for FBC to learn a catechism through a weekly family catechism is still very much alive so I am motivated to try a different plan—and a different catechism. We were using a version of the Westminster Shorter Catechism that was written and adapted by John Piper. It was a fine catechism but at 118 questions long it would take us well over two years to complete even if we used it every week. What I didn’t realize when I began this project last year was that many other churches were also seeing the need for a return to the age old practice of learning through a catechism and working on a vehicle to help teach it. Tim Keller and other pastors at The Gospel Coalition have combined the wisdom of several historic catechisms into a 52 question version that is great for weekly family devotions called the New City Catechism. They have also created a free app for iPad and android devices that provides an adult and child version of the questions and answers. For each question the app includes short teaching videos from a fantastic collection of contemporary pastors as well scripture passages, commentary and prayers from theologians across the ages. I am impressed with the content of the New City Catechism, the ease of use and the quality of the resources in the app. For those without an iPad or andriod device, the website functions exactly the same way as the app.
So here is the new plan. Beginning the first week of January and for the succeeding 52 weeks I would like our families to begin learning the New City Catechism through weekly family devotionals. You will have to schedule the time, the app or website will provide the background you will need to discuss the questions and answers, and FBC will also provide additional material weekly through our website to help make your family meetings creative and fun. Between now and January, feel free to download the app or visit the webpage and get familiar with it. Check out this introduction to learn more about the value of learning a catechism—if you get bored mid-stream, scroll down the the last few paragraphs—the one that begins, “When my son, Jonathan, was a young child….” I think you will be motivated to read the rest after that part! There is also an F.A.Q. page for additional information.
I hope you will take this challenge with me in the hope that together we will learn to know, love and obey God more completely this year.