One of the blessings of the Reformed/Presbyterian tradition is the emphasis and practice of training covenant children in the way of the Lord. Early on in the Reformation, the Reformers wrote and preached not just for adults, but for children as well. In fact, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Shorter Catechism were written to help train children as well as adults. For over 400 years, Reformed/Presbyterian churches have published booklets to help teach kids the faith. These catechisms are a systematic question and answer way to teach our kids basic Christian doctrine. They are not dry, dusty documents, but tried and true ways to instruct our covenant children in the faith.
The main resource my family uses is the First Catechism, which is something like a kids’ version of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. When our kids are familiar with this First Catechism, it will be easy for them to move on to the Shorter and Larger Catechisms. We like this catechism because it is brief, clear, biblical, and has precise language – language which kids pick up on (our little girl has prayed, “Thanks God, for making me and all things!”) For an example, here are the first four Q/As (there are a total of 150 Q/As):
1) Who made you? God.
2) What else did God make? All things.
3) Why did God make you and all things? For his own glory.
4) How can you glorify God? By loving him and doing what he commands.
Another resource for those who are more familiar with the Heidelberg Catechism is A Compendium of the Christian Religion. This is a shortened version of the Heidelberg Catechism that was (if my info is correct) written in 1599. It was mentioned at the Synod of Dort as a helpful aid in teaching covenant youth. It is a bit dated and contains archaic language; an updated version might be nice. Another resource very similar to the Compendium is a small course written by Peter Y. De Jong. It’s called Learning to Know the Lord. I went through this material when I was a young teenager; it is an excellent resource and is inexpensive and still in print. (For those of you in continental Reformed churches, feel free to chime in on some catechism resources you’ve used.)
Training our kids in the faith isn’t always an easy task! There are quite a few resources out there, I know, but this is one area where we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Keeping it simple, we can read the Bible to our kids and teach them a summary of it in the catechism. These are building blocks for our kids to start with and upon which to grow. It’ll help them better understand Reformed theology of the creeds and confessions – and ultimately, the theology of Scripture!
Note: The First Catechism can be found on various websites, and is usually inexpensive (well under $5.00). There are even catechism songs, flash cards, and apps which help teach (and learn) the catechisms of the Reformation. We can be thankful for all these solid resources!
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)