Home christian living Catechizing Your Children–Don’t Worry, It Doesn’t Hurt

Catechizing Your Children–Don’t Worry, It Doesn’t Hurt

by Kelly Crawford

Some may have never even heard the term “catechism”, so, briefly, it is a summary of the basic Christian beliefs in a Q & A format.

Years ago, catechizing children–that is, having them memorize the catechisms–was as natural for a Christian parent as teaching their children their ABC’s.

Currently, few Christians even know what it means. I submit that the loss of the catechism tradition plays a huge part in why many Christians are so shallow in their knowledge of theology and the Bible.

As a parent, few things are as important as teaching our children how to handle the Word of God–which begins with the basic tenets of our beliefs. It should be FIRST on our list!

And the catechisms make it so easy. To a parent who asks, “How do I teach the Word of God to my children?” There isn’t an easier answer than to begin with the simple instruction of the catechisms.

We prefer the Shorter Catechisms with our children–and even as named such, there are 107 questions and answers to prove challenging to even adults!

As already mentioned, great spiritual heroes of the past were taught these tenets of the faith as early as they could talk, and expected to learn them before anything else.

I admit that we have waxed and waned in our teaching of the catechisms. But my husband and I were talking last night that we need to revisit the practice and see it through.

These make GREAT exercises for school, by the way, particularly incorporated into copy work.

I challenge you…it may seem overly simple or pointless, but I think you’ll be amazed at how much wisdom and knowledge is imparted through these questions, and how often you’ll refer back to them as you daily instruct your children.


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MamaJ February 8, 2009 - 10:06 am

We use Catechisms too! We also use a set of books at our church called the “Truth and Grace” books. They have the shorter catechisms and memory verses for children/parents too. Each family goes through them together and then one family a week recites what they’ve learned. It has been a neat experience for us. (I like the new blog look too!) Have a great day!

Bernice February 8, 2009 - 1:08 pm

I have a preprint of “The New England Primer” I got it from Wall Builders when David Barton came and talked at our church. Very intereresting by the way. If you ever get a chance to hear him, do it. http://www.wallbuilders.com

This little book shows what children were taught in 1777. When you mentioned the Catachisims, I remembered them being in this book. I will have to start teaching these too. Thanks for the encouragement!

Civilla February 8, 2009 - 1:39 pm

That’s interesting. I was born and raised a Roman Catholic and went to Catholic school for about seven years. The nuns used to use catechisms with us every day to have us memorize things.

Deanna February 8, 2009 - 3:17 pm


Somewhere along the way “Catechism” received a bum wrap. Personally I thought it was a Catholic thing and I wasn’t raised Catholic. Thought it was taught to Catholic children after school, one day a week.

Just read Webster’s definition of catechism, has to do with a handbook of questions and answers for teaching the principles of a religion.

Is it possible your catechism book is different than the Catholic Catechism Teachings?

Not trying to stir up strife here, just curious…Is it possible the Catholic Cathecism book shared it views about Mary worship, praying to Saints for answering prayers, and purgatory?

Where as Protestant Christians focus on the scriptures telling us that we aren’t to pray to anybody but God,
we are to pray in Jesus Name,
the deity of God doesn’t include Mary and other Saints.

OH MERCY, I can hear the tempers fluttering right now.


Lori February 8, 2009 - 3:29 pm

I grew up on the shorter chatechism, and am teaching them to my pre-schooler. It’s wonderful. We do them at bedtime. We also memorize the good hyms together (strong theology + good tune = good hymn). Yes, our chatechisms are different. There are several protestant evangelical chatechisms to choose from, for that matter. Wesmintser shorter; Westminster Longer; Heidleberg, Calvin’s, and others.

Lori February 8, 2009 - 3:34 pm

Oh, by the way, the shorter chatechisms have been great in my boy’s and my everyday converstions: we talk about where God is (everywhere), what He sees(everything, even though we can’t see Him), and where babies come from (as in, “Mom, where did the baby come from?”, “Well, where did everything come from? Who made everything?” “God” “Oh, very good, you clever boy…” Yes, he knows a lot more than we’re going into here, but we’re not ready for the nitty-gritty).

Bethany Hudson February 8, 2009 - 6:41 pm

Deanna, as a Catholic, I find your assertions about our catechism to be completely unfounded and, frankly, ignorant. You say, “Is it possible the Catholic Cathecism book shared it views about Mary worship, praying to Saints for answering prayers, and purgatory?” We do NOT worship Mary, and the Catechism itself is very clear on this point. We worship and adore God alone. We honor and venerate Mary and the saints; it’s completely different. Moreover, we have Biblical reasons (quoted and referenced in the Catechsim, actually) for praying WITH (not to) the saints and for our belief in purgatory. If you wish to make comments about the beliefs of another faith tradition, perhaps you should study those beliefs in depth rather than propogating misconceptions. I know that you said you didn’t want to stir something up, but when you make these sorts of ignorant comments about another faith group–particularly one that has been repeatedly persecuted because of such misconceptions–you have to understand that those of us who are of that faith group get a little exasperated.

I plan to teach my children the Catholic Catechism, and I agree with Kelly that passing on the faith is an important calling for Chistian parents.

Civilla February 8, 2009 - 6:56 pm

Reformed people use their own catechisms.

Civilla February 8, 2009 - 7:02 pm

Deanna was just asking a simple question. The word “catechism” means “Catholic” to many people who have only heard that word in a Catholic context.

I was surprised when my husband pastored a Reformed church for 10 years, that they also had a catechism. They used the Heidelberg Catechism, which was all Protestant Reformed theology.

I think it is great when an older woman like Deanna is still learning and questioning.

Word Warrior February 8, 2009 - 7:18 pm

I guess it does help to clarify that catechisms are more common among the Catholic faith and Reformed Protestants, though the questions/answers are different.

I should have noted (and most people don’t realize this) in speaking of how Christians formerly catechized their children, the church was primarily broken into two groups before all the other denominations split off. You primarily belonged either to the Protestant church (which was reformed in doctrine–spawned by Martin Luther) or the Roman Catholic church.

Deanna February 8, 2009 - 9:01 pm

Dear Kelly,
Thank you for sharing that information. Appreciate this as well as your blog. Now I know that there is a difference with Catechism teachings. Thank you for being kind toward me.

As a Christian wife and stay-at-home mother,
I CHEER YOU ON! What an honorable thing you are a part of.

I strongly believe in Christian training in our Christian homes and if this Catechism helps promote Christian behavior and educated Believers that have godly answers to tough questions, than it’s got to be a wonderful teaching tool to use.

Also, Thank you Civilla for the kind words.
Praise God, you are kind and have compassion to those that ask questions.

I’ve been around the block a time or two and I am somewhat acquainted with life, but none of us know it all. Some people say this type of person that thinks they know it all are arrogant and have a god-complex.

Now for a little good news!
Beloved Bethany Hudson is about to experience REVIVAL.
If Jesus is one’s personal Saviour then they’ve been adopted into the Family of God.
Jesus is my Lord!
So if Bethany is a child of God we belong to the same family and we’re SISTERS IN CHRIST. Like most families, there will be disagreements.

For instance, I will never thoroughly study in depth every subject I hear about before asking questions or forming an opinion. That would be absurd.
So if this is ignorant, so be it.

Sweet Bethany is a little touchy. Perhaps her hormones are raging! I personally know quite a few Catholics and they don’t all get exasperated as Bethany said those of her faith that have been persecuted do. I love my Catholic friends and Catholic family members.

From what I understand CHRISTIANS thru out history have been persecuted and persecuted and persecuted. They continue to be persecuted and will be until Jesus returns.

Venerate according to Webster’s Dictionary does mean to worship.

Praise God! According to God’s Holy Word,
the Bible,
Jesus is our propitiation. No need for purgatory.
Romans 3:25
1 John 2:2
1 John 4:10

Praise God! The Bible let’s us know that as a Christian to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD.
2 Corinthians 5:8

Kelly, thank you for hearing me out.
God richly bless you and Bethany Hudson.
Deanna from the Kansas Flinthills

Lori February 8, 2009 - 9:27 pm

Deana – “we are to pray in Jesus Name,
the deity of God doesn’t include Mary and other Saints.”

While you may have started your comment “out of curiousity” you are certainly here “propogating misconceptions” about R. Catholics, as Bethany suggested.

“OH MERCY, I can hear the tempers fluttering right now.” – This to me sounds like “Christian-ese” for “I’m aware I may be offending, don’t care, I’m ready for a spat”.

So then Bethany calls you to account for your assertion(s). She clarifies for you. And you accuse “Sweet Bethany is a little touchy.” Oh, you’re just oozing with sarcasm.

“Perhaps her hormones are raging!” That was just belittling, and petty.

“if Bethany is a child of God…”
Did you just say “if”? “IF?!” How audacious to call that into question!

“Beloved Bethany Hudson is about to experience REVIVAL. ” What the heck!? How would you know where she is in her walk with God? Preposterous!

If you would suggest that Bethany is perhaps the feisty type, I doubt even she would disagree. But you have hardly been charitable to her. Maybe it’s none of my business. It’s not my blog, I don’t know her or you, and I’m not even R. Catholic. But I would be saddened to see myself written about in such disrespectful ways and no one defend me, and am frankly embarrassed to have witnessed it. Thank you for your time.

Word Warrior February 8, 2009 - 9:50 pm

I feel the need to step in and suggest a truce…disagreements certainly occur among believers and on this blog, but I want to encourage you to type slowly, and try to separate your objective points from your emotions (I know I’ve been guilty of typing too fast many times).

I consider debate and discussion of differing opinions highly productive if we can remain civil–;-) Just a friendly note from the blog owner.

Deanna February 8, 2009 - 10:30 pm

My apologies for upsetting some readers. That’s not what I intended. I still believe that it’s alright to ask questions, have opinions and a sense of humor.

I will continue to read your site.
You have a great deal of helpful information on this blog.

Truce here. With due respect, if there be anymore comments or questions to my entries that I have made on your site then I will not comment further pertaining to the Catechizing Your Children Post.


Dana February 8, 2009 - 10:44 pm

“You primarily belonged either to the Protestant church (which was reformed in doctrine–spawned by Martin Luther) or the Roman Catholic church.”

Don’t forget the Orthodox! 🙂

(of course your statement applies for most of the western world.)

Bethany Hudson February 8, 2009 - 10:53 pm

Kelly – I thank you, first of all, for not closing down this debate because of some heated words. I thank you, secondly, for your discretion in calling us to remember to be civil and respectful to each other. I apologize if I have been otherwise, as I consider myself a guest of yours when I visit here, and I would hate to act in a way that would make you or any other guests feel uncomfortable. I will take your advice to type slowly 🙂

Lori – Thank you for your kind defense. I now feel less of a need to say many of the same things myself 😉

Civilla – I agree that it is admirable that Deanna wants to continue learning and growing in her faith; Jesus asks no less of each of us, but that doesn’t always make it easy, and every effort to grow in Him is to be commended and encouraged. I apologize if it seems I was trying to stifle such growth. That was not my intent. Thank you for mentioning the information you did about the Reformed Catechisms (which I have studied and read and enjoyed learning about, myself). The only thing that had ruffled my feathers was that I felt Deanna had spoken with a sense of authority about what the Catholic Catechism says in her questioning, though she does not seem to understand what is actually written in that Catechism. I realize I may have sounded a bit like a mouthy upstart; I did not know Deanna’s age, or I would have tried to be more deferential, considering as she is my elder, and therefore has more life experience than I.

Deanna – I will willingly concede that it is possible my hormones are a little out-of-whack, as you mentioned, seeing as I am currently pregnant. However, I was rather hurt that you would mention something so private and personal in a way that I felt to be dismissive of the very real emotions and thoughts I was attempting to convey. Of course, if this was your way of saying that you’re giving me the benefit of the doubt, then I thank you.

As I mentioned in my note to Civilla, I would be more than happy to discuss what is written in the Roman Catholic Catechism, and of course I do not expect that non-Catholic Christians would be well-versed in what the Church says and believes, but I do take issue when someone who does not understand our beliefs espouses knowledge that is based in misunderstanding and ignorance, rather than fact. You claim to “know” (from the way that you worded things, not from outright assertion) that we, Catholics, worship someone other than God, and this is blatantly false, though a very common misperception. The perpetuation of this myth that Catholics worship the saints and Mary rather than the Triune God has resulted in centuries of discord, that I would hope we might all be seeking to heal, as Christians, rather than enflame.

I find myself encouraged that you, at least, confess us to be sisters in Christ, as I believe we are. Many Protestants I have known do not even go this far, and basically consider me hell-bound because I am not Protestant. So, I thank you for this concession. I hope that this is what you meant, though you do say “if” I am a child of God. I assure you, I have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I have been confirmed in the power of the Holy Spirit, and I am blessed to experience daily relationship with my Lord. Additionally, I must concur with Lori: I don’t know what you meant by my being “about to experience revival.” Of course, as a Catholic, I believe in the importance of daily conversion in my walk with Christ, but I doubt that a full-scale revival is imminently in store for me. 🙂

I also apologize if I made it sound like you were being intentionally ignorant. I don’t consider ignorance to be an insult, though I know it is often used as such in colloquial speech. I simply meant, as the literal meaning of ignorance denotes, that you did not seem aware of the true teachings of the Catholic Church but were rather espousing some very commonly held misconceptions that I have noticed in Protestant communities. Of course I do not expect you to pursue a lifelong study of the Catholic Church (though all Christians should certainly be aware of their own history within the body of Christ, the first 1500+ years of which are contained in Catholic history). I happen to love studying comparative religions, and I confess I sometimes think from this mindset; I apologize if it seemed I was putting expectations upon you.

In order to understand the theological definition of veneration, it may be helpful to refer to this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veneration. While a contemporary dictionary may offer the definition of worship, the theological term is somewhat differentiated from the common English usage.

As far as Jesus being our propitiation, Catholics agree on that point. We do not believe we need other propitation or another mediator. However, this belief has no bearing on our belief in purgatory. I know that this is a doctrine that most Protestants find very convoluted and even sometimes offensive, so I will leave off trying to explain it. There are many theologians who have done a better job of that than I could.

You speak of your Catholic friends and family not being exasperated, and generally of course, I am not. When one knows the person speaking to them, they have a common background for understanding where questions and comments spring from. Naturally, we all tend to be a little more defensive when we do not know the person who is speaking to us. To give you some understanding of where I am coming from, I will offer the following comments and questions that I have had posed to me personally within the past two years alone from “well meaning” Protestants:

– “I didn’t know you were Catholic. Are you saved, then?”
– “The Pope is a tool of Satan.”
– “Why do you worship Mary?”
– “All that saint stuff is idolatry. You should repent.”
– “I don’t think Catholics are saved/are Christian.”
– “Nuns and monks waste their lives; they don’t exhibit real faith.”
– “Convents are just an excuse to not participate in a Christian life.”
– “Catholics don’t believe in Jesus, they just do what the priest says.”

This is just a smattering of the misperceptions that plague Catholics–from our own brothers and sisters in Christ, no less. Of course, misconceptions are bound to crop up between all denominations, but I have noticed a significant reticence on behalf of many Protestants that I know to study the FACTS about the Catholic Church, rather than the myths that seem to surround it. When I have offered, even to close friends, to explain, I have often be rebuffed because they deem it beneath them to learn about something that they don’t consider godly, anyway. I hope this gives you a bit more of perspective on why I reacted the way that I did.

Kelly- Thank you again for letting me word this very lengthy comment. I hope it will assuage any misunderstanding or hard feeling. As Deanna said, we are all family. I hope I have done an adequate job of mending any “familial rifts.”


Word Warrior February 8, 2009 - 10:53 pm

Oh yes, Orthodox…I’m not very adept at all my theology/church history…fairly new to the concept that it even matters! 😉

Word Warrior February 8, 2009 - 10:58 pm

I think a group hug is in order *Grin*

Thank you ladies, for your graciousness!

Mrs. Lady Sofia February 9, 2009 - 1:17 pm

I think the catechisms are a good starting guide for learning biblical truths. However, we must remember that they are not a substitute for true bible learning (e.g., reading the bible alone without additional resources). I’m also not sure if just being able to “memorize” questions with bible knowledge is very ideal, unless the person “memorizing” these bible verses believes and/or practices them with a sincerity of heart.

I started reading a book based on the shorter catechism called, “Training Hearts, Teaching Minds,” by Starr Meade, which is actually a family devotional book. It breaks down each question of the catechism within a 6 day (Monday to Saturday) time period, where you learn different aspects of the question. I find it a good resource of biblical information, but it’s not “perfect.”

Only one or two bible verses are given to prove a particular point. I find myself having to read the entire chapter to make sure the bible verses are not taken out of context. This is why I don’t feel the catechism is “perfect.” It’s easy to take biblical meanings out of context if you just read one or two verses. It’s always best to read the verses around the ones selected so one can know if the bible verses used are correct or taken out of context.

Lori February 10, 2009 - 10:02 am

Mrs. Lady Sophia – some catechisms offer more proofs than others, sometimes different versions (esp for children) offer fewer, or more. You are doing a great job looking up each one! That must make a great Bible study each for each catechism. I also find the scripture proofs to make good memory verses (my Mom’s idea, though:). You are absolutely right, there is NO substitute for being in the scripture, frequently! Chatechisms are really just a tool, for encapsulating doctrine. 🙂

Chrys February 23, 2009 - 10:52 pm

I asked for these as a Christmas gift and our family has enjoyed them:


Karen (Canadian Soldier's Wife) March 15, 2009 - 8:34 am

I am just wondering at what age you started teaching catechism to your children? I have downloaded a children’s version to start teaching to my four-year-old; she has memorized several scripture verses already so I think she’s ready…


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