New to Emmaus Road Kids: The New City Catechism

What is a Catechism?

As Paul sat in a Roman prison cell awaiting his death, he penned his parting instructions to Timothy: “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13). But not only was Timothy to personally imitate that pattern, he was to reduplicate it in the lives of others: “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). 

That is what Jesus commissioned his people to do: “Go therefore and make disciples … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). 

Disciples make disciples who make disciples.

The way disciples multiply disciples is by receiving, obeying, and passing on all that Jesus taught, what Paul calls “the pattern of sound words,” or a reproducible outline of the gospel that others can trace onto their own lives.

That’s what a catechism is for. It sets out the glorious truths of the gospel in a reproducible pattern of sound words that can be memorized, recited, studied, and lived.

The word catechism comes from the Greek word katecheo, which means “to teach orally” or “to inform by word of mouth.” Galatians 6:6 says, “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches” (emphasis added), or literally, “let the one who is catechized share all good things with the catechizer.”

While the practice of catechesis waxed in the first centuries of the early church, it waned through the Dark Ages. During the Reformation, men like Luther and Calvin revived the practice of careful and intentional catechesis by printing catechisms that churches could use to teach believers in the essentials of the Christian faith.

Historically, the church’s ministry of grounding new believers in the rudiments of Christianity has been known as catechesis—the growing of God’s people in the gospel and its implications for doctrine, devotion, duty, and delight.
— J. I. Packer and Garry Parret

The New City Catechism

Recently, The Gospel Coalition teamed up with Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church to create The New City Catechism, a modern adaptation of four mainstays of the Reformation: Calvin’s Geneva Catechism, the Westminster Shorter and Longer Catechisms, and the Heidelberg Catechism.

The New City Catechism has several great features:

  • The catechism contains 52 questions and answers, one for each week of the year
  • The adult and children’s versions match up so that the shortened answer for children is always part of the longer answer for adults
  • Every question/answer includes commentary from historical giants like Bunyan, Calvin, Spurgeon, Edwards, and Wesley, and modern voices like Don Carson, Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, and others
  • The Gospel Coalition has recorded songs for every question/answer set to aid memorization
  • It’s available in several easy-to-access formats, including hard copy books, a website, and a free mobile app

How We Intend to Use The New City Catechism

As 2018 begins, we want to encourage parents to use this catechism at home. Order the book or download the app, then start memorizing the questions and answers along with your kids. Use it for family devotions around the dinner table or before bed. Listen to the songs and sing them together. Quiz each other on car rides. Let this content help you practice Deuteronomy 6:7: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

We are also asking volunteers with Emmaus Road Kids to add the Catechism to their lesson plans for Sundays, taking time to teach and/or review that week’s question and answer with kids. 

Be sure to check out the Bible verse, commentary, and prayer that accompanies each question and use those to help you explain the meaning of the answer to kids.

Ready to Get Started?