Tim Keller and The Gospel Coalition are launching an initiative to return catechesis to the church. Keller writes:
In the heyday of the Reformation, church leaders in Europe again faced a massive pedagogical challenge. How could they re-shape the lives of people who had grown up in the medieval church? The answer was, again, many catechisms produced for all ages and stages of life. Martin Luther and John Calvin both produced two, as did John Owen. The Puritan Richard Baxter produced three.
But in the evangelical Christian world today the practice of catechesis, particularly among adults, has been almost completely lost. Modern discipleship programs are usually superficial when it comes to doctrine. Even systematic Bible studies can be weak in drawing doctrinal conclusions. In contrast, catechisms take students step by step through the Apostles' Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer---a perfect balance of biblical theology and doctrine, practical ethics, and spiritual experience.
Catechesis is an intense way of doing instruction. The catechetical discipline of memorization drives concepts in deep, encouraging meditation on truth. It also holds students more accountable to master the material than do other forms of education. Some ask: why fill children's heads---or for that matter, new converts'---with concepts like "the glory of God" that they cannot grasp well? The answer is that it creates biblical categories in our minds and hearts where they act as a foundation, to be gradually built upon over the years with new insights from more teaching, reading, and experiences. Catechesis done with young children helps them think in biblical categories almost as soon as they can reason. Such instruction, one old writer said, is like firewood in a fireplace. Without the fire---the Spirit of God---firewood will not in itself produce a warming flame. But without fuel there can be no fire either, and that is what catechetical instruction provides. [Read more...]
They are making New City Catechism - a joint adult and children's catechism consisting of 52 questions and answers adapted from the Reformation catechisms - available on their new website, and for use as an app.