Learning to Be a Man

#4 – Teaching God's Word                                                                               February 8, 2004

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It's been a pretty busy last couple of months.  Two other men and I have been preparing for and then teaching an Adult Sunday School class at our church covering many of the same topics we explored at Haycock.  The three of us have been getting together for breakfast once a week since October planning for this class.  It has been a great time of fellowship for us as we have talked about being godly leaders of our families.  And now that my teaching responsibilities have come to an end, I can sit back and enjoy the teaching of these other two men of God.


The two classes I taught today and last week were "Family Worship" and "Catechizing Our Covenant Children:  Why is catechizing essential to covenantal faithfulness?" It works out that many of the resources I shared with the class fit perfectly with the next topic of our Learning to Be a Man series:  Teaching God's Word.





First published sixty years ago, this much-loved Bible storybook continues to instruct and delight today's children and parents.  This book is a great start for taking your family through the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.  Especially helpful for the Dad who may be new at leading his family in worship is the way Vos weaves in spiritual applications and historical data as she tells the story of redemption in chronological order with more than 200 stories from the Old and New Testaments.   These stories are retold in simple language appropriate for 4- to 12-year-olds, while remaining faithful to Scripture.










GENESIS: A Commentary for Children (Herein is Love Commentary Series)

by Nancy E. Ganz


Once we finished going all the way through The Child’s Story Bible, we began going through it a second time when we were introduced to this commentary series for children at a Ted Tripp seminar.  There are three so far (Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus), and these provide much greater depth than Vos.  We’ve been reading this most nights after dinner for about two months now (about 10-20 minutes each night) and we are still in Genesis 3!  Although some of the chapters can be read easily at one sitting, many of them are way too long and will have to be broken up into several smaller readings spread over several days.  (I just noticed that the next chapter we are to read is close to 20 pages long!)


“Bible commentaries for children?  Yes, Bible commentaries for parents to read to their children. This series of books provides what children need—solid truths to grow in to. Too much material for children is so light and fluffy that children are not encourage to think great and glorious thoughts about God. These books are different. Artfully written, they beautifully draw out the implications of the Old Testament narrative that are foundational for Christian faith.  I guarantee that your children will not want you to stop reading these books and you won’t want to stop either.”  -- Ted Tripp



SEARCHING FOR TREASURE: Studies in Proverbs by Marty Elwell


Searching for Treasure provides 20 weeks of daily Bible lessons from the book of Proverbs. Each lesson is age-integrated so the entire family can learn and grow together. Specifically designed to build character, Searching for Treasure will have an effect on your family immediately. Topics include choosing your friends, honoring parents, giving up your pride, overcoming temptation, gossiping, seeking revenge, being generous, working hard, and numerous others. Each lesson includes several different verses to read, a memory verse, discussion questions, and teaching tips for the parents. A fold-out game board and memory-verse cards are included to make teaching the program simple for the parents and exciting for the kids. Searching for Treasure can be used for Sunday School, home school, Bible clubs, and children's ministries of all kinds.


We are alternating this study with memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism and Meade's devotional every other week.


THE BIG BOOK OF QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: A Family Devotional Guide To The Christian Faith by Sinclair B. Ferguson


Although I have never used this book, I thought it worth mentioning. 

Ferguson is Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia.  Each of the 77 sessions begin with a question such as #3 "What is God like?" and #12 "What does our sin deserve?" Then there is given a one sentence answer that can be easily memorized, a longer explanation, a memory verse, Bible reading, discussion questions, some kind of action time (usually writing or drawing), and suggested prayer time.  This is an excellent resource for those who may not be fully comfortable with the different catechisms mentioned below. All Christians should be able to agree with the questions and answers given in this book.  For example, baptism is handled in such a way that both Baptist and Presbyterian families should be comfortable with what is said. The sessions are probably longer than most would have for daily family worship, so this book may work well for Sunday afternoons.





Have you ever wondered what you would like your children to have memorized by the time they leave home?  In this little volume, Settle has divided up all the questions and answers of the First Catechism, the Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC), Bible verses as well as entire passages, and even hymns into lists for each age group to memorize, starting at age three and going all the way through High School.  An excellent and exhaustive work!  Although we have yet to do this, friends of ours have a copy for each of their children so that they can keep track of what they have to memorize each year.  My only suggestion would be to start memorizing the WSC earlier than his suggested 5th grade, especially as he notes himself that the First Catechism is geared for 3 to 9 year-olds.  Scriptures to memorize are given in both NIV and NKJV translations.



"Catechism for Young Children" or "First Catechism"





This catechism is a simple introduction to the Westminster Shorter Catechism geared to 3-9 year olds.  It is an excellent beginning for teaching your children the fundamentals of your faith and can be easily adapted for Baptist families.  Has 144 total questions.


Sample questions:



Q. 1. Who made you?
A. God.

Q. 2. What else did God make?
A. God made all things.

Q. 3. Why did God make you and all things ?
A. For his own glory.

Q. 4. How can you glorify God?
A. By loving him and doing what he commands.



THE FIRST CATECHISM Great Commission Press


A recent revision of the older Catechism for Young Children which is meant as an introduction to the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  Suggested for ages 3 through 9.  Has 145 questions and many of them are worded the same as the Catechism for Young Children. I think Great Commission Press has just finished revising The First Catechism a second time this summer as part of their new Kids’ Quest Catechism Club Sunday School material.  Although we started memorizing the First Catechism, we found that our 7-year old was easily able to begin memorizing the Shorter Catechism, so we switched.





Based on the Catechism for Young Children.  This book is the result of transcribing the talks the author gave while teaching classes on how to teach children the catechism.  I used this book when I taught the Children’s Catechism to a 2nd grade Sunday School class.  There are one session and scripture readings for each of the 144 questions and answers.  Some of the sections can be practically read as is, and some of the later sections are more thoughts for the teacher on what to cover, etc.  The book includes about 50 pages of appendices which include information on putting together catechism classes as well as games and quizzes you can do with your children. Not really designed for daily work, this book would work well once a week.



BIG TRUTHS FOR LITTLE KIDS: Teaching Your Children to Live for God

by Susan Hunt & Richie Hunt


This is a newer book that was given to us recently and is based on the newer First Catechism.  The Hunts take a different approach dividing up the 144 questions and answers between 36 sessions.  Each session includes around 5 or so questions and answers, a story about Caleb and Cassie illustrating the truths covered in the questions and answers, a few questions to spark discussion, and a scripture verse with suggestion for prayer.  The Hunts suggest reading through the 36 stories several times as your children learn the questions and answers in order.  In other words, you may be reading story #5 while still memorizing the answers that were listed back on story #2. I believe they also suggest using this book once a week.



The Westminster Shorter Catechism






All 107 questions and answers laid out as a Microsoft Word document.  Print out this document twice, once on the front of card stock, and once on the reverse, and you will end up with two sets of WSC flash cards.  Includes all proof text references as well:





The original Shorter Catechism with scripture proofs.


The Shorter Catechism: A Baptist Version


This edition of The Shorter Catechism, drawn from The Westminster Shorter Catechism, includes questions and answers reflecting a "Reformed Baptist's" views, particularly on the covenant of grace and baptism itself. It is an outstanding tool for families with growing children, as well as new Christians of all ages.



TRAINING HEARTS TEACHING MINDS: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism by Starr Meade


This is the book we are currently using.  Meade provides six devotional readings designated Monday through Saturday on each of the 107 questions and answers of the WSC.  Each reading will also include one or more Scripture passages to be read.   This lends itself very nicely to learning a question a week; although we are taking a little longer because we are alternating this with our Proverbs study each week.  Dad and Mom needed more than a week to learn each answer!  Although this is an excellent resource to give your children a sound theological foundation, I do have one caveat.  First, Meade has chosen to use The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English.  Since this modernized version is not a universal standard, it can cause confusion.  As a family we are memorizing the original version. The six-day-a-week format lends itself very nicely to daily family worship.


“The Westminster Shorter Catechism is truly one of the best means of teaching the faith to your children. Starr Meade has made this extremely easy and practical in this new book. A must have resource.” – The Discerning Reader.



A FAMILY INSTRUCTIONAL GUIDE:  The Shorter Catechism Explained From Scripture by Thomas Vincent


This is one book I have in electronic format as part of my Libronix Digital Library System.  You can get this book and several other Reformed classics free (they do ask for about $8 in shipping and handling) from www.FreeBibleSoftware.com.  You can also purchase a paper copy from The Discerning Reader website linked above. 


What Vincent does is take each of the 107 questions of the Shorter Catechism and then explain what is meant by giving around a dozen “under-questions and answers.”  Although he praises those who have endeavored to memorize all the answers and questions in this guide, he readily suggests that one only memorize the questions and answers of the Shorter Catechism and then read through sections in his guide as one has time.  You can read a copy of Vincent’s introduction online:



“An excellent reference to use along side the catechism...classic!”—The Discerning Reader





This is the book our Jr High Sunday School teacher uses as he prepares his lessons each week.


“The Westminster Confession and Shorter Catechism is perhaps the most faithful and concise statement of Christian teaching ever produced. We can be thankful for this excellent resource which makes the catechism easy to study and master. A classic tool made even better in this new edition!” – The Discerning Reader.



REDISCOVERING CATECHISM: The Art of Equipping Covenant Children by Donald Van Dyken


An easy to read volume, Van Dyken makes a clear case for catechizing our covenant children.  He shows how throughout church history, and especially since the reformation, catechism was the normal way of passing the faith to our children.  He also deals with practical issues of doing this and includes a listing of various reformed catechisms and where to order them. 


”An excellent guide to help parents with a vital task: instructing their children in the faith. Must reading!” – The Discerning Reader






A great short article originally published in The Westminster Teacher, April 1909.


“It is worth while to be a Shorter Catechism boy.  They grow to be men. And better than that, they are exceedingly apt to grow to be men of God.” – B. B. Warfield






Not only do they have the entire WSC online, but they also have links to introductory articles by several Puritan writers as well as a collection of Harmonies of the Westminster Standards.

Hopefully this list is helpful.  As you can see, there is quite a collection out there to help us as we endeavor to teach our children the truths of God's Word. We are living in exciting times as the Spirit of God seems to be awakening men to their responsibilities as Prophets in their homes. We are fortunate to have so many resources at our disposal!

I thought I'd close with a quote from Donald Van Dyken, Rediscovering Catechism, p. 23:

“Catechisms, properly written and used, never replace the Bible. On the contrary, they direct our attention to the Bible, excite our interest in its glories, and bring together its truths. As a catechism charts the main features and outlines the grand themes of Scripture, we are led to an orderly understanding. Thus our reading and study of the Bible are more profitable, our life is more fruitful, and our praise and thankfulness to God are more intense.”


May God bless our families as we humbly teach them the words of life.


Your fellow prophet,

Terry Carnes

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