Teach These Things: The Difference

489px-LutherRoseYesterday, I wrote about the upcoming release of Teach These Things: Catechesis for the Lutheran Parish. But is another set of materials really necessary in the church?

Obviously, I think so, or I wouldn’t be putting this together. And those helping me think so as well. What makes Teach These Things different?

From a cost perspective, there is only one book. The catechist buys this. The children receive the Small Catechism and a Bible; hopefully they receive or purchase these books with any ‘program’. But there is no catechumen book. No workbook. No extra textbook. Why? Because the focus should be on Scripture and the Small Catechism. That is all you need, except some hymnals for the opening and closing (You do have hymnals available at your church, don’t you?)

The materials follow Luther’s Outline of instruction, instead of the Melanchthon/Dietrich method on which most materials in our synod are based. That’s not just a slogan, or a philosophy behind the materials. Actually included in each session is on outline of Luther’s Large Catechism on the topic. There’s more than just those outlines, but the outlines help the catechist understand what Luther was trying to say, and make sure that the catechumens understand the Small Catechism according to the Large. There are several places where significant differences exist between the Large Catechism and the Synod’s explanation.

This means that the Catechism is properly treated as a prayerbook, not a textbook. Children learn the catechism, they learn it by heart, and they learn it in the context of prayer and preaching.

Which is why this also ties in with the resources in Lutheran Service Book. You don’t have to sing the hymns. I’ve done it with and without. But the hymns are a great addition to the instructional sections, if you have the musical ability. If you don’t, then you can speak them, or even omit them, because:

Everything is modular. You can use whatever parts you want, and omit what doesn’t fit with your parish. Hymns are listed. Not for you? Don’t use them. Responsive readings of psalms is an option. Services from LSB can be used, or not. Two different syllabi (a one year and a two year program) are included. Want to add a biblical history component? That is there for you. Or not. Want to have the kids fill out worship/sermon reports. They are there. Don’t want them? Don’t use them. Why all the possible additions or deletions?

Because each parish and each catechist is different. Because pastors are under tremendous time pressures from parents, sports, other activities at the church, etc. This is designed to fit with your abilities, your time constraints, and still have a program that covers the basics of the faith. It’s been used with children and adults. For adults, you can have them do more reading (which they usually love) and less memorization (which they don’t). The instruction is even modular. How?

Instead of proof texts, Teach These Things uses longer narrative sections of scripture. The reason is simple: The Catechism is the key to reading and understanding scripture, so get the people reading scripture, and explain it to them so they understand it. Each session has an Old Testament and New Testament reading. Use one or both. Use the enclosed catechism notes, or skip right to Luther’s outline and go through that. Because it includes Luther’s outline, the instruction is timeless. Because there are additional notes, it applies to the world we live in today.

Obviously, I’m excited about this. I hope you will be too. Once we get finished proofing, I’ll try and get some samples ready so you can see what is being offered.

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