How to Use the Explanation in a Variety of Parish Settings

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The Versatile Small Catechism with Explanation

In the last post, I laid out some implications of the new edition of the Small Catechism with Explanation for teaching in the parish. With that in mind, I’ve brainstormed some ways that you or any faith leader in a congregation can use the Small Catechism in different settings in teaching in the parish. In doing so, you will not only educate your learners in the great flexibility of this new edition of the Explanation but will also help empower them to use it as a guide for their own lives.

Opening for a Church Meeting

In the new Explanation, thirty-eight important elements of the Small Catechism begin with a section titled The Central Thought. This includes not only the original text of that element of the Small Catechism but also some guiding questions for individual consideration or group discussion. So, instead of opening a church meeting with a regular devotion, consider using the information and questions of The Central Thought section next time instead. Over the course of a few years, you can cover the high points of the Small Catechism with your board or team without doing any extra prep work.

Bible Study Helper

The new Explanation is full of not only Bible verses (over 1,100 written out) but also numerous references to Bible narratives and how they link the story back to the timeless truths of the faith. As you prep to teach any Bible study, consider consulting the Scripture reference in the back of the new Explanation. Then, as you teach, you can point your learners back to the big ideas of the faith they’ve learned before in Confirmation or Sunday School. Since these elements of the Small Catechism are meant to serve as practical guides to the Christian life, you will also help ground your Bible study in the vocations of your learners by continually pointing the narratives of the Bible back to the timeless truths of the faith.

Bible Study Aid

Need a quick Bible study for adults but don’t have much time to prep? Why not pick up the new Explanation? It already includes a logical structure, Scripture references, and reflection questions (see my last post for more details). Lead your learners through a section piece by piece, and see how God’s Word speaks to them in this simple yet powerful way.

Visitation Tool

Many pastors and other faith leaders do visitations with sick or homebound members on a regular basis. Often in these situations, they don’t have much time for a long devotion so instead offer comfort with a Psalm, a few Scripture verses, and/or prayer. Well, if you’re one of these people, the Explanation may be a great help to you! At the end of each of the thirty-eight aforementioned elements of the Small Catechism, the writers have included a section (along with many great texts) with a companion Psalm reference and a prayer for devotional use. Consider bringing your new Explanation with you on a homebound trip. The Psalms aren’t written down in the Explanation, but you can look them up on your smartphone while on the call. The prayers and other Scripture references, though, are clearly spelled out and easy to use.

Devotional Tool

See the Visitation Tool above, except encourage your learners to use the Psalms and prayers in the Explanation in their own personal devotional lives. Many parishioners are, frankly, embarrassed by their lack of understanding of how devotions are done; the new Explanation provides a simple framework for this. In addition, the Appendix to the new Explanation also includes a section on a simple way to pray, which provides some additional support in learning to study God’s Word in daily life.

Sunday School Opening or Choir Practice

Each element of the Explanation also now includes a stanza from an LSB hymn. If you’re opening a choir rehearsal or Sunday School  class, consider reading out loud the original text of the Small Catechism for that element and singing together the companion hymn stanza. This can serve as a great springboard for discussion on how the Small Catechism aligns with our hymnody and worship.

Youth Group Topical Study

Youth group may not be the most traditional place to use a text like the new Explanation, but listen up. The writers of the new Explanation have gone above and beyond in addressing current events, moral issues, and other hot topics that young people face in their lives. Each of the main elements of the Explanation includes a Connections and Applications section, which helps lay out these topics in a more logical way than ever before. So, to use this as a youth group topical resource, either skim the Connections and Applications section or look up the topics in the topical index.

Adult and Youth Confirmation

Okay, this may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth repeating here. The layout of the new Explanation is great for Confirmation class, weaving together reflection questions, Scripture passages, and devotional thoughts. Even if you’re a teacher who really likes to use only the Six Chief Parts of the Small Catechism (as presented in A Simple Explanation of Christianity), the new Explanation can still be a great resource for you and/or your learners. The A Closer Reading section of each of the elements analyzes the precise wording for each of the Chief Parts. In other words, the new Explanation is presented in such a way as to serve as a reference or commentary for the Small Catechism like never before.

What about you? How will you envision using the new Explanation in the parish? 



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About the Author

Pete Jurchen


Rev. Pete Jurchen is Editor of Curriculum Resources at CPH. In addition to his MDiv, he has a MS Ed. in Curriculum Leadership and enjoys the pursuit of lifelong learning. He is honored to serve the congregations of the LCMS by equipping and partnering with its households in engaging their God-given vocations. He lives in Imperial, MO, with his wife, Deb, and his four children. You can read his latest posts here.

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