The Heidelberg Catechism is a real gem. Thoroughly biblical, deeply compassionate, wonderfully comforting – the list could go on. Often times, however, I struggle with teaching it to my kids. Though the answers are rich and wonderful, they are sometimes quite long. Because of this, I have tried some different tactics.
When my older two daughters were starting out, I used the catechism for young children with each of them. Since the answers are so short, and since the catechism covers so much ground, I felt I was able to start cementing a broader range of categories in their little heads early on.
When my oldest daughter was finally able to memorize portions of the Heidelberg catechism, I began using the wonderful Graduated Memory Program for the Heidelberg Catechism written by my colleague in the URCNA, John Bouwers. (Click here to download this woefully under-priced – i.e., FREE – resource!) This has allowed both my girls to recite portions of the catechism together. Even though the older one can recite more, the younger one enjoys being able to participate. I especially like that this tool helps them to learn the Heidelberg itself with only a minimum of relearning as the answers expand.
Recently, a friend at my church gave me a copy of a resource called The Young Heidelberg Preparatory Catechism, written by Stephen Rhoda (this can be purchased here). This is similar to Bouwers’ version in that it pares down the catechism answers. Unlike Bouwers’ version, however, it does not retain the word order of the Heidelberg itself, but instead tries to capture the main points for young children. In this sense, it reminds me of the catechism for young children, though the answers tend to be longer.
While (as you can probably tell) I am definitely sold on Bouwers’ Graduated Memory Program for the Heidelberg Catechism and have found the most success using it, I am very pleased with the possibilities Rhoda’s book offers. Different families will find different things that work for them in teaching their children the Heidelberg Catechism. What is more, each family will find different ways to teach that same catechism to the different children in their family. Thus I wanted to pass this along for those who, like me, always like to know when someone has found another resource out there to consider.
If you know of other resources like this for the Heidelberg Catechism, feel free to chime in down in the com box!
R. Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church (URCNA)