How To Use the New City Catechism

There are two mutually reinforcing techniques for cementing knowledge into your brain. It's how you store something up there for future use. The first is repetition. I know, you may have horror stories of grade school rote memory work, parsing Latin verbs and such, but it is the way we learn. We are creatures of habit. We don't just act the same way repeatedly but we also have to use habit to reinforce the things that are important to us. Our second tool is question and answer. The old word for this is elenctic education. It is a complicated way of saying, "You won't remember something unless you were curious about it in the first place." These two techniques come together in Christian education under the title of catechesis or in a catechism

If you've attended Christ Covenant long enough I'm sure you realize that we work our way through the New City Catechism week after week. It is in this way we hope to cement into our brains the important truths of our Christian faith, reminding ourselves of the gospel of Jesus. By repetition and through question and answer we are declaring in worship what truths we think are most important. We didn't choose the New City Catechism just because it was a 52 week compendium of orthodox Christian doctrine. We like that but we're also thrilled that there are so many ways to engage with the truths in it even after you've participated in the congregational response during worship. 

So how can you use the New City Catechism even more than you do now? Let's go through a typical week. 

Sunday

This Sunday we'll take a look at question 39 from the New City Catechism which reads:

So you respond in worship with the answer. But you could go home and reflect on that question a little more. You could even chat with your young children about it using the shorter answer highlighted in green.

Monday

By Monday, the question is still in your head but now you can add a Bible verse to it. So you decide to take a look on your app or online and find what Bible verse is behind this catechism question:

So you spend the rest of Monday reflecting on and maybe memorizing Phillippians 4:6.

Tuesday

By Tuesday you're wondering what theology might be behind the catechism and Bible verse you've been reflecting on. So you go back to your handy app or online to find the brief commentary associated with that catechism question:

You found a great, short snippet by John (not Paul) Bunyan on prayer to read on your lunch break. 

Wednesday

Ok, so you read something by an old guy about this question but is there any living pastor that you could listen to on the topic. You return again to the New City Catechism to find a video by a pastor (who just happens to be planting a church in the DC area) provided further reflection on the question you're considering:

That was encouraging. You're now digging pretty deep into our attitude in prayer. 

Thursday

Now you're wondering what it looks like to practically pray this truth. Good thing the folks at New City Catechism provided a sample prayer for you, this time by CS Lewis:

Friday & Saturday

That leaves two days to go back over anything else or just do the work of memorizing if that's what you've set out to do. 

Conclusion

All this may be a little much for you. Or some weeks you may have more time for this than others. Or one question may particularly pique your interest. What I hope you see is that you can engage the catechism as little as a call and response in worship on Sunday or  by delving deeply into it all week. In this way you can learn key truths of the Christian faith and put them into practice even as we consider them week by week as a church family.

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You can find the NCC online or  in the Apple App Store.