As Easter draws closer I wanted to make you aware of a resource from a friend and local church planter, Freddy Williams. Freddy has prepared two catechisms for families to learn about God. One catechism focuses on the narrative of the Bible called The Story. The other catechism is called Easter Catechism. This catechism focuses on preparing families for Easter. Here is my interview with Freddy.
Jeff: Tell us a little bit about who you are?
Freddy: Married, daddy of two stallion boys, planter and pastor of Ekklesia in St. Charles, Mo.
Jeff: Why did you create a catechism?
Freddy: I didn't grow up in a culture that catechized or a system of Catechesis, nor was I raised in a family or church community that practiced family worship. Family worship is simply a time set aside for your family to gather together and worship in the home. Though the idea wasn’t foreign, it was not practiced—maybe just assumed. I was a student/family pastor at a larger church for many years, and I continually engaged in conversations with parents about what discipleship looks like in the home. Sadly, many parents believe the church is responsible for taking care of our children. Is the church the primary source of discipleship for our families?
It’s no secret: our children have left the church in staggering numbers in recent years. The answer is not more programs or better performances. Our children need a more robust picture of the biblical narrative. Our families need a new identity shaped in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe the way forward is to root the gospel at the center of the family.
As with most things, my wife and I learned through much trial and mostly error. We planted a church made of many young families learning how to become families, the majority of which were birthed out of their own dysfunctional, broken churches and families. With the resurrection and resurgence of the conversation on family worship, the movement to push discipleship back in the home beckoned an accessible mode to communicate the biblical narrative. When my oldest son was three, I began asking him questions and inviting him into more conversation. Dialogue that would ultimately stir the deep waters of his heart and pave the way for discipleship in everyday rhythms of life, including the moments of discipline.
The desire for more is always within us. It seems the human experience is one of an insatiable desire to satisfy our deep hunger, to quench the deep thirst of our soul. Our longings only show the depth of who we are and who we were created to be.
Our children were created with the same longings for more, the same insatiable desires for depth. As parents, we must bring understanding to the deep waters of their identity. The gospel brings understanding; the gospel story roots identity.
Jeff: There are several different catechisms out there why create your own?
Freddy: I never set out to write a catechism. The movement and rhythm of Catechesis naturally emerged in our times of family worship. I ultimately wrote what has become STORY catechism out of the need and desire to invite our family to walk through the big narrative that is central to the Bible. I learned early that story has a way of inviting us into more. Story is innate to the human soul. Our hearts speak the language of story. Story captures and invites, it beckons and woos us into more. Where most catechisms have clearly defined questions and answers, STORY catechism moves like a narrative. Each statement moving us forward from the previous statement tracing the central thread of the gospel. It's the story that every story finds its roots. We have found and experienced a narrative-style cadence and rhythm has potential to capture our children's hearts in deep and profound ways.
Jeff: What is your hope for Story and Easter Catechism?
Freddy: It's our hope and desire that this pilgrimage will rekindle within us a desire to dig deep wells and know the biblical narrative beyond rote, mechanical, and formulaic anecdotes. To reacquaint ourselves with the story that transcends time and is the center of history and the human experience.
From the beginning, everything points to the climatic moment, and from this moment everyone and everything finds its foundation.
This is the story that gives us our meaning.
I want to invite you into a 5 week journey towards recapturing the heart of the Easter. Easter Catechism from Storycatechism.com is designed to help families and communities embrace the God given rhythms of season & tradition. Easter is a great opportunity to invite people to interact with God's story of redemption in a way that can affect change in the heart and home for generations to come. I invite you to begin this journey with our families and communities this season.
Jeff: What does it practically look like for your family to sit down and use the catechism?
Freddy: For our family, we have found bedtime to be 'ground zero' so to speak for family worship. 5-15 min depending on a myriad of factors and circumstances. For what's it's worth, consistency is one of greatest allies. We cannot create the culture or the bedrock necessary for discipleship to take place over night. We are amazed at how the accumulation of 5-10 min conversations over the years have resulted in the opportunity to shift the conversation on the gospel into everyday life, where identity really roots. The STORY rhythm really helps with family worship. READ, MEMORIZE, CHAT, PRAY. Each section moves on this rhythm.
Jeff: What about catechisms do you believe help you form your kids in discipleship vs other methods?
We have found that repetition precedes understanding. The rhythm invites our families into the depth of the story. It's tills the ground and makes the soil fertile for understanding to take root. I use a term a lot, "connecting the dots". Catechism allows us to connect the dots for our families in a way that I have not experienced from other methods, especially thru narrative style. If we can't connect the dots for our children, then some other narrative will. The other benefit to catechism is the expectation of slow growth in grace over time. There's no gimmicks with the gospel. No microwave, silver bullets. We must shepherd and pastor our children's hearts. That takes time. After all, the gospel is rooting deeper in me now, than ever.