Is theological memorization and reflection for our children really that important? Tim Keller, who is Senior Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and Co-Founder of The Gospel Coalition, believes Christians not only have a method, but also a mandate, to engage our children in the exercise of catechism. The word “catechism” means to memorize, and the act of catechizing has been done by various church traditions for thousands of years.
Keller explains the practice of catechism finds its roots in the medieval period as churches were grappling with ways to be doctrinally pure in the midst of a potentially hostile culture. In other words, how can churches and Christian parents help their children’s lives to be shaped by Scripture instead of imbibing the culture around them? If medieval churches were concerned with the dangers of being shaped by culture, then how much more should the modern church be concerned with the same danger? The need for childhood catechism is important in helping children to become faithful in their gospel witness in a sinfully broken world.
In this video produced by the Gospel Coalition, Keller outlines three important reasons to catechize our children:
1) Catechism helps children over time to know important biblical truths from their heart because they are ruminating and meditating on them on a regular basis.
2) Catechism creates categories for children that are like buckets of knowledge that become more “filled up” as that child grows through his or her adolescence and further into adulthood.
3) Catechism is communal because its method is a question and answer format that places an emphasis on dialogue with children instead of a one-sided lecture.