Catechising our children

Catechising our children
Source: Shutterstock
Jenson Lim
Jenson Lim Jenson Lim is an elder at Dunblane Free Church and a lecturer in cell biology at Stirling University.
19 May, 2023 4 min read

The task of catechising is perhaps not something that all Christian parents are keen to adopt for their family. After all, we lead busy lives and if we have daily family worship and go through the Bible stories, should we not leave the teaching of the Bible for Sundays and weeknight Bible studies? Years ago, however, catechising the young would be part of family and church life.  


Catechism is the practice of explaining the teachings of the Bible through a series of questions and answers. A catechism covers the summary of the Christian faith and gives the child a ‘compass’ to help navigate the Bible.

The basis of this practice stems from Galatians 6:6, ‘Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.’ References in this verse to the one ‘taught’ and the one who ‘teaches’ translate Greek words from which we get ‘catechise’.

Elsewhere in the Bible, the use of some form of catechism among converts was suggested by the Apostle Paul. He spoke of those who were given a ‘form of knowledge’ (Roman 2:20) and those who ‘obeyed from the heart… the form of doctrine which was delivered you’ (Romans 6:17).

Paul instructed Timothy to ‘Hold fast the form of sound words’ (2 Timothy 1:13). What is this ‘form of knowledge’, ‘form of doctrine’, or ‘form of sound words’? This is unlikely to be the entire Bible as it then stood, but a discrete, limited set of lessons.

This practice continued in the early church, who, in seeking to evangelise the Jews and heathen, set aside a ‘catechist’ to instruct the ‘catechumen’ (one receiving instruction) the first principles of the Christian faith.

New: the ET podcast!