Teach These Things: Is It Necessary?

489px-LutherRoseThere are a lot of options for teaching the catechism. Curricula abound. So, why bother writing (or buying) a new one? Is there really space for another catechesis program – even a niche one?

I had been in the ministry for a few years before I had to teach my first ‘youth catechism’ class. I knew that I wanted my catechumens to read scripture, and I knew I wanted them to learn the catechism. But I didn’t really know how best to go about it.

I called a brother pastor for advice, and he said, “Listen to Kenneth Korby.” So I did.

What I discovered is that the “Synod catechism” method is actually only one strain of catechism instruction in the Lutheran Church.

The Synod Catechism traces its history to Conrad Dietrich, a seventeenth century theologian and pastor. His explanation became the format almost all the others have followed. But if you look even farther back, Dietrich’s outline bears a striking resemblance to Melanchthon’s Loci Theologici. It is an academic work, designed for instructing students at the university.

In contrast, Korby prefers J. Michael Reu’s method, which is descended from Wilhelm Loehe. This method follows the basic outline of Luther’s Large Catechism. The instruction is far more practical, and contains far fewer additions to Luther’s simple catechetical method.

Over the years, I found that this method worked better. It kept the interest of students better, it was simpler and more interesting to teach, and most importantly, it seemed that the catechumens had a greater interest and commitment to our theology. It was not simply words on a page, it actually related to their lives.

As I saw other pastors struggle with some of the same problems I once faced, it seemed to me that this might be useful to others as well. Many pastors have tried this or that, and are looking for something that is more practical, more interesting, more… (insert adjective here)

I can’t guarantee that Teach These Things will solve every catechetical problem. But the field tests showed what I had found in my own parish: It helps alleviate some of the more critical ones. Perhaps the highest praise I have received came from one of my field testers, who said that this was the first program that he felt comfortable handing off to a lay-teacher the day he could not be there. Teach These Things can be used by catechists who have formal theological training, or have not had that training. It can be used for children or adults, and it is designed to fit within the parameters of the average parish catechism program.

If that seems like something you would be interested in, then check out the SAMPLER. Teach These Things: Catechesis for the Lutheran Parish will be available June 15 for $19.99 (Downloadable print-it-yourself edition) and $33.99 (Hard copy).

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