Ok, ladies and gentlemen, you may be aware that the LCMS is in the process of updating the additional material attached to Luther’s Small Catechism. I look forward to seeing it. But here is an idea I would love for one (or more) of you to tackle: catechism questions.
I would love to see a book (primer?) with catechetical questions for varying ages: not as a confirmation curriculum, but more of a quick supplemental religious lesson that could be done around a dinner table. It wouldn’t replace Bible stories or family devotions. It would just help parents talk about stuff with their children, even the very young, because the parents would literally have the answers on hand.
Personally, I suggest having a preface that includes basic stuff for toddlers and preschoolers (Do introduce the Trinity! Do teach that we are not saved because we are, or become, “good”!). Then the introduction would help guide parents (or teachers) to know where to place kiddos in the book. After that, they’d follow along the book. In other words, it isn’t by age exactly, but would be a sequence.
There is stuff to explain before the catechism makes a lot of sense. Now, I’m actually a fan of rote memorization—learning before completely understanding—but the particular point of this book would be to facilitate daily conversation on the faith. After all, ours is a religion believed, lived, and spoken!
Teaching terms is a good place to start, as is following the basic pattern of the Augsburg Confession: Who is God? What is sin? Who is Jesus? and so forth. (I actually modeled a year of homeschool religion class on that progression for a 6 & 7 year old and it worked really well. Obviously I didn’t include everything, but it sure helped me focus on important teachings.)
Ideally, there would be basics followed by prep for the Small Catechism. How many years for the preparation leading up to official confirmation would be up to whomever, as would going through the Small Catechism which even adults can reconsider daily. But when you’ve gotten into the Small Catechism—or even before—go into the Divine Service, ie., how we receive faith, how we live in faith, how God comes to us. Isn’t that what every age needs to know after learning that Jesus died for our sins?
Don’t stop there. Where are the resources to go through the Large Catechism with growing children? First, take answers from the Large Catechism for the parents (who may not be familiar with the spectacular finds in that book), and then consider when the kiddos themselves can engage with the text.
Obviously, this would not be a place for speculation or questioned teachings. One might not even bring in the additional, updated questions our synod likes to add to “good ol’ Marty”. In short, I don’t see any reason for this project to wait: why not have a single book a family can buy and use with their kiddos for several years? Maybe even five or ten? Catechism questions and answers in typical Q&A format.
I think it could be great. Marketable to homeschoolers, Lutheran schools, Lutheran teacher programs, DCEs, Sunday school teachers, pastors, etc., it could be downloadable and skip print if necessary! And, I wonder if it could be offered to a synodical board of education for publication if a denominational publisher weren’t particularly interested. (I’ll admit. Such a book might be competition for the various confirmation courses currently available.) Smaller publishing houses could be interested in such catechism questions or organizations like CCLE that sometimes print their own materials.
Anyway, what do you think? If no one jumps to, I’ll try to get to it eventually. I think a lot about little sinners and the faith so necessary for them and for me. And, frankly, theology rocks my world. Such comforts can be given to those of little faith! And those little with faith! And to all who could move mountains with the help of our God!
Think about it. Play around with it. Write up what you can. Maybe some time we can pool our resources and produce the resource. Or, do it yourself and I’ll find something else to do! 🙂
PS. Ideas shared often result from conversations and not just me! Feel free to contact me with ideas to share and so build up the church and/or the literary world.