Jared has been writing a lot about using catechisms over the past month. So I wanted to give him an opportunity to answer some questions about the one he's had a part in developing, The North Star Catechism. Here is my interview with Jared.
Jeff: Who are you?
Jared: I am the husband to Megan and dad to three girls--Rachael, Lucy, and Elisabeth. I lead SojournKids as Pastor of Families at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY. I also blog here at gospelcenteredfamily.com.
Jeff: There are several different catechisms out there why create your own?
Jared: We'd been using catechism with our kids at home and with our church community for quite a while. At one point in the past, I simply updated the language from the Catechism for Boys and Girls and added memory verses from the New Living Translation. But the North Star Catechism came about at the initiative of our lead pastor, Daniel Montgomery. He'd been working on a 28-point theological vision for our church and church planting network. The 28 points teach key truths about God’s glory, the gospel, the church, and God’s mission in the world. The vision is holistic and action-oriented. That is one of the key advantages of what we've put together. Much of the devotional material for other catechisms we're familiar with focuses merely on memorizing doctrinal knowledge. Our desire is to develop tools for our families and church planters that empower them to put their faith into practice.
Jeff: What is your hope for the North Star Catechism?
Jared: Our kids need to have their faith firmly rooted in doctrine that has weathered the centuries. My friend, Sam Luce, has described it this way, “I know that I find myself drawn to cleverness and cutesieness when what our kids really need is to understand the doctrine and the truths many early Christians gave their lives for.” For thousands of years, travelers have been guided on their journey by a fixed point in the night sky: the North Star. While other stars appear to shift with the passing of time, the North Star remains anchored. This gift allows travelers to know where they are and where they need to go. Like its celestial namesake, our prayer is that the North Star Catechism will like be a faithful guide for the next generation. We want to root kids in the deep truths of the faith and empower them to live out that faith in the real world.
Jeff: What about catechisms do you believe help you form your kids in discipleship vs other methods?
Jared: What I like about catechisms is that they give us a basic outline for learning Christian doctrine-- a basic reference point to go back to when there is a need for clear definition. To be honest, learning the catechism isn't nearly as inspiring as telling a great story. I don't think that catechism is a great method for discipleship on its own. But a catechism provides us with clear, simple definitions that help the stories make sense. When a child arrives at a concept or term in the biblical story that is confusing, a catechism often gives clear definition.
Jeff: What does it practically look like for your family to sit down and do the catechism?
Jared: We try to review a question per day at the dinner table. We keep a chalkboard nearby to write the verse up. I let our daughters (who are able) read it to the family. Then, I'll either turn the board around or erase a word at a time and keep reciting it until we've memorized it. We do something similar (except with a PowerPoint slide) in our worship assemblies with the kids at church. Our daughter Lucy who was diagnosed with Autism at age 3 reviews the questions daily as part of her ABA therapy routine as well. I'm not always as consistent as I'd like to be at dinner time. Recently one of Lucy's tutors asked me if I'd been reviewing the catechism lately, because it seemed like Lucy wasn't as quick during her therapy times. That was really convicting to me, and it reminded me tools like this are a lot more meaningful when they are used as a part of a shared experience with your family or church community.
I'd love to invite all of our readers to check out The North Star Catechism. There is a free PDF download on the sojournkids.com website, and there are flash card and Scout book resources available for order as well.