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Back to basics

June 2013 | by Elvin Mensah

There has never been a time when God’s Word has been so far from the minds of our nation’s youth as it is today. We live in a generation where society scoffs at the Bible and neglects the inspired Word of God.

      There are all manner of assaults on the Scriptures and much hostility from modern day sceptics and critics.


Today’s young people in many professing churches are not being built up in their faith with sound and biblical doctrine, but are rather being clouded by many gimmicks and distractions, such as motivational messages, music and entertainment, with little focus on God’s Word.

      There is compromise on truth in order to appeal to a younger generation. This is one of the reasons why at our church we have gone ‘back to basics’.

      We are a young people’s fellowship that meets every Friday evening, from 7:30pm till 9.00pm, at the Evangelical Reformed Church situated in Lauriston Road, Hackney.

      We go through the Westminster Shorter Catechism and are instructed in God’s holy Word. The meetings are currently led by a brother in Christ who is training for ministry at the London Theological Seminary.

      At present, we have a fair number of young people attending this meeting. The typical age range is between 11 and 26, although we do have older people also attending the meetings.

Why a catechism?

A catechism is a way to systematically teach children and young people biblical truths and Christian doctrine. To help with memorisation, the Westminster Shorter Catechism is composed of 107 questions and answers, broken down into six categories.

      These categories are: God as creator; original sin and the fallen state of man’s nature; Christ our redeemer and the benefits flowing from our redemption; the Ten Commandments; baptism and Holy Communion; the Lord’s Prayer.

      As young people, we have found the catechism very profitable in building us up in the essential truths of the Christian faith; it has helped deepen our understanding of Scripture. The catechism has benefits for:


Due to its simplicity, it allows people of a young age to be taught the truths of God’s Word in a plain, simple, but comprehensive, manner. Its question and answer format is a really helpful and interactive way of learning.


It promotes a strong foundation for the Christian religion and, if studied properly, enables us to be grounded in the faith. The benefit is that, even as young people, we will be able to discern error and distinguish those things that are true from what is almost true.


Although the Westminster Shorter Catechism is quite concise, it is rich and full in content on the key and essential doctrines in God’s Word. Its format makes it useful for reflecting upon Scripture truth, while answering many important questions raised by the different topics. It engages the mind and allows us to think through issues.


The catechism is also very helpful for memorising Scripture truths in a simple and uncomplicated way.

Though this catechism was compiled some centuries ago, it has a long and rich history in the Reformed tradition. It is still useful for young people, and indeed all Christians, in 2013. It may be old-fashioned, but certainly isn’t out of date, because truth is never out of date!

      The truth of God’s Word doesn’t change, even though our culture, attitudes and ideas change. This is because God himself is unchanging and his truth is always the same (Hebrews 1:12; Psalm 102:27).

      Using the catechism to teach young people the things of God is a sure way to take us back to basics. It takes us back to God’s Word, as the source of all truth and spiritual knowledge. It still holds much relevance for us today.

      May it continue to do the same, until the Lord Jesus Christ returns in his glory to take his church to himself!

Elvin Mensah (22 years)


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