Catechesis: The point of Christian Education, according to our Lord, is to “teach them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). The old word for Christian education was “catechesis” — which means “instruction.”
At Michiana Covenant Presbyterian Church we have blended a traditional Reformed emphasis on “catechism” with an older Augustinian understanding of “catechesis.” The result is that our catechetical instruction (otherwise known as Sunday school) has two emphases:
1) learning the story of the scriptures (Augustine’s catechesis)
2) learning the doctrine of the scriptures (using the Westminster Shorter Catechism)
For this reason, we encourage a thorough knowledge of the scriptures — which is the story of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since we have a tendency to think that we are the center of the universe, we need the story of the scriptures to de-center us and remind us that Jesus is the center of the universe. Only then will we be properly oriented to our own place in his Kingdom.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism then summarizes this teaching in doctrinal form. Each week after Sunday school we have a “catechism quiz” where children and adults repeat the catechism question(s) of the week. The reason why we use the Shorter Catechism is because of the way it summarizes so simply “what the scriptures principally teach” — namely, “what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.” One could outline the Shorter Catechism as follows:
Q 1-3 Introduction
Q 4-38 What man is to believe concerning God
4-19 (God the Father and Creation/Providence/Fall into Sin)
20-28 (God the Son and the Accomplishment of Redemption)
29-38 (God the Spirit and the Application of Redemption)
Q 39-107 What duty God requires of man.
39-84 (The Law of God: Love God and Neighbor)
85-107 (The Way of Salvation: Faith, Repentance and the Means of Grace)
The goal of this catechesis is to mold the church of the Lord Jesus Christ into the image of Christ himself. As our lives are re-centered by the Word of God we begin to be and to do what we are called to be and to do in Christ.