There was a time in life when the word “catechism” would have only invoked a look of confusion on my face.
Shortly after my look of confusion, I would have struck by a feeling of profound boredom.
But nowadays I use a catechism with my own kids to teach them about truths of the Christian faith. Why the change?
Since becoming a parent—and since I really started to study the tried-and-true methods of teaching children—I have come to understand that a catechism is a wonderful method of giving kids a map of the Bible.
But when looking for a catechism for your kids, what should you keep in mind?
4 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Catechism
1. What matches your beliefs? – Do you come from a more baptist tradition? Presbyterian? Wesleyan? It is important to choose a catechism that reflects your own beliefs. (Of course, if you find minor disagreements, you can always make changes to something.)
2. Does your church actively promote a catechism? – Some congregations and denominations actively use a specific catechism in Sunday School programs or during corporate worship. Consider using the one your church uses at home.
3. How old are your kids? – Some catechisms were written for adults, others for older kids, others for very young children. Choose something well-suited for your child’s age.
4. Are there any support materials for the catechism you want? – When choosing something for your family, ask how you want to teach your kids. Do want songs that help your kids to memorize the catechism? Lessons to use for a home Bible study? Other crafts and/or activities?
Below are some popular Protestant catechisms from which to choose.
Popular Catechisms for Younger Kids
Small Children’s Catechism – Published recently by Chris Schlect, Fellow of History at St. Andrew’s College, this catechism is for the youngest of kids, written from a Reformed perspective.
Catechism for Young Children (or the modern First Catechism version) – Originally published in 1840 by Joseph P. Engles, this catechism is as an introduction to the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Reformed perspective).
The Catechism for Young People – Written recently by Pastor Stephen Hildebrandt (from a Reformed perspective) and made popular by the Songs for Saplings music.
A Catechism for Boys and Girls – Written in 1798 by Richard Cecil for young children in Baptist churches
Popular Catechisms for Older Kids
The Westminster Shorter Catechism (or this Modern English Version) – Written in 1646 and 1647 by the Westminster Assembly in London (largely Presbyterian and Reformed)
Heidelberg Catechism – A Reformed catechism written in 1563 in Heidelberg (present day Germany)
Luther’s Smaller Catechism – Published in 1529 by Martin Luther
The Baptist Catechism (or this one modified by John Piper) – Written in 1813 by churches part of the Charleston Association (now called the Southern Baptist Convention)
The Catechism of the Methodist Episcopal Church – Written in 1852 for churches in the Wesleyan or Methodist traditions
New City Catechism – Published by Tim Keller, useful for churches in a broad Reformed tradition (Baptist or Presbyterian)—also has a shorter version for younger children
What catechism do you use with your family? Am I missing any Protestant catechisms that are widely used?
Interesting post. I would like to share two things.
1. My First Catechism is Luther’s Small Catechism which can be used with younger children. While it is not free it is a valuable resource for families. https://www.cph.org/p-1737-my-first-catechism.aspx
2. Luther wrote The Small Catechism. This is the catechism of the Lutheran church.
I love this/these posts on catechism. I’m going to link on my new website.
[email protected] Peaceful Haven
I have used the Westminster with my children…it is such a wonderful tool to have! Thanks for your informative post…you shared some wonderful resources!
Thanks! We also use the Westminster.
Check out http://www.songsforsaplings.com
Really – you should highlight them on this page – unless you already have and I missed it!
Thank you! I have been searching unsuccessfully for the Engles catechism online, so I very much appreciate the link!
A couple others I would add. If you want something very brief for little ones, My First Book of Questions and Answers seems to be pretty good. It’s a pocket-sized book. (www.amazon.com/First-Questions-Answers-Bible-Teaching/dp/185792570X)
And someone just introduced us to the Ask Me Whooo series, which is the First Catechism put to music. I am not kidding, I put the first song on just to get a feel for what the albums sound like, and my 2-year-old came running. He LOVES it.
The Baptist Catechism is available set to music, too, although I haven’t had a chance to hear it yet, so I don’t know what the music is like.
The Baptist Catechism set to song. Questions 1 – 102 are free on YouTube…
Or a CD of all 114 questions can be purchased here…
We are of a non-denominational background. Any suggestions on which to use?
I would look at the theology of the catechism and the age of your children as a guide. Some catechisms are written for very little kids, others for older kids. Certainly, your church takes a stance on specific theological issues that would serve as a guide for you. Do you practice infant baptism or believer baptism? Is your church more Reformed? This will help you find a catechism that’s right for you.
Another great set-to-music resource, if you are using Westminster’s Catechism for Younger Children, is Dan & Karen Vitco’s CD – Teach Them The Faith. The music is absolutely wonderful and very moving as it ebbs and flows with the various themes the catechism presents. I purchased my copy from Doorposts but they are not currently offering. It can be found through Amazon at this link…
Do you happen to know of any non-reformed catechisms? I am Baptist, but lean Arminian rather than Calvinist. I love the idea of using catechisms, but am struggling to find one that isn’t reformed.
If you lean in Armenian directions, it is true there have no been as many catechisms written in that tradition. Probably the best one, written from a Wesleyan/Methodist perspective is “The catechism of the Methodist Episcopal church.”
I use New City catechism in part because their app makes it really easy! They also have links to the pertinent scripture and a commentary on the background of each question/answer.