Five Tips for Teaching the Small Catechism

Joe Willmann Teaching the Faith at Home 1 Comment

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The team at CPH EDU has dedicated a tremendous amount of time to encouraging you in your use of the Small Catechism in your home. In fact, you will find 70+ posts on this topic alone! And while you will find lots of tips and strategies for how you might teach these eternal truths to your children, let’s spend a moment focusing on you—yes, you—the parent.

We know you have the tools to teach these truths to your children. Whether you are a 1941 or 1986 translation adherent, iOS or Google app junkie, use the version that you find in LSB or TLSB, sing it out loud with Sing the Faith, or use your Alexa-enabled device or TinyCards, you have plenty of ways to access the Small Catechism. So let’s just focus on you. Here are five tips for you, the parent, as you teach Luther’s Small Catechism to your children.

Tip 1: Start with prayer

It can sometimes be a struggle to pray for yourself, but God has invited us to bring our needs to Him. As you are catechizing your children, there is no doubt that you continually keep them in your prayers. Maybe it’s before you go to bed at night, maybe it’s the first thing you do every morning—you beg the Lord to keep your family safe and keep them in the faith until He returns. Consider adding this to your prayers:

Lord God, Father of all, You have given us Your Word to sustain us and keep us in the faith. Please give me the guidance, patience, and knowledge to instruct my children in the knowledge of what Christ has accomplished for them and delivered to them in their Baptisms. I ask this in the name of our blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tip 2: Stay in the Word

The alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m.; you get yourself ready and have breakfast ready for the family. Then comes getting the kids up and ready for school, then a full day of work, picking the children up from school, dinner, homework, laundry, bathtime, bedtime, wash-rinse-repeat. It can be easy to fall out of a habit of daily Bible reading. One of the best tools to keep you in this habit is Treasury of Daily Prayer or its associated app, Pray Now (iOS or Android). Using the daily lectionary will help form and shape your Scripture reading and prayer life.

Tip 3: Stay in the Catechism
Yet I cannot master the catechism as I wish.Rev. Dr. Martin Luther
Yes, you are teaching it to your children, but these eternal truths are not only for children. They are for the entire household. Luther leads most sections of the Small Catechism with some form of this simple statement: As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.

You are not outside of your own household. You are a part of it. You should still faithfully and joyfully stay in the Small Catechism. Luther said:

“Yet I act as a child who is being taught the catechism. Every morning—and whenever I have time—I read and say, word for word, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, and such. I must still read and study them daily. Yet I cannot master the catechism as I wish.” (Preface to the Large Catechism)

Tip 4: Learn from one another

You are walking together with other people who are raising children in the faith as well. Whether it is in your church, your school, or with your friends, take the time to learn from one another. While no two children are the same, there are things that we can learn from others’ experiences in teaching the Small Catechism to their families. Spend time with these friends. Enjoy each other’s company. Listen to their struggles, and share yours. Uplift each other in prayer. These small and simple things will go a long way in keeping you accountable to the task at hand.

Tip 5: Get yourself to the Divine Service every week

Remember that you need to hear the Gospel. You need to receive God’s gifts, which He gives to us in His Word and Sacrament. And by getting yourself to the Divine Service every week, you will be getting your children to the Divine Service.

What tips do you have for other parents? What are other ways you can encourage and support one another in the teaching of your children?

God’s blessings as you teach the faith once for all, delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).

Large Catechism Quotation from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, copyright © 2005 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Joe Willmann

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Joe Willmann is the Senior Instructional Designer for Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis, MO. A former teacher and administrator, Joe has a passion for education and learning theory. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from Ball State University and his Master's Degree from Concordia University - Ann Arbor. He lives with his wife, Nicole, his daughter Ava, and his son Carter. You can read his latest posts here.

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Timothy Schenks

How many congregations evaluated this book as it was an extremely brief field testing period? Mine didn’t.