This Fall, when we start our new Christian Education program on Sunday, September 20, we will begin catechizing our children using the New City Catechism which was put together by The Rev. Dr. Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Many of you will know Keller from The Prodigal God series we studied last year, as well as The Reason for God series. Those of you who have served on the Vestry remember thinking through contextualizing Christianity in the city center with the book Center Church, also written by Keller.
The New City Catechism was formulated by combining The Heidelberg Catechism with the Geneva Catechism and the two Westminster Catechisms (Larger and Shorter). The purpose of this catechism is threefold: 1) teach the Gospel through the building blocks of faith such as creation, the Trinity, and the Fall, 2) address the false teachings and unhelpful aspects of contemporary culture, and 3) build a distinct community of people who know what they believe and why they believe it.
This catechism, which is available on the Internet, is formulated for ease of use and understanding. At any time, you may sit down with your child (or your spouse or a friend) and go over the questions and answers. There are helpful videos and quotations to help you understand the big idea and apply it to your life. There is even an iPad app you may use for this tool.
Our children (and our adults who are involved in this initiative) will learn the essential aspects of the Faith and why they are important. They will learn the holiness of God and the doctrines of grace. They will learn that hope comes not from within their own work or identity but from Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.
As society and culture focus more and more on self-fulfillment and gratifying of desire, it grows more and more difficult not simply to go along. Many kids do just that–and much earlier than they used to. The New City Catechism and our Sunday School curriculum are not magic bullets to stop this. Our children will know and understand the difference, though. Some kids will connect to this powerfully right now. Others might remember and come back to the teaching after walking in the wilderness for a while. This much is true: we will have given our children all they need to make the Faith their own. That is a tremendous part of our calling at St. Thomas’.