Illustrating the Benefits of Catechisms
There are several vivid ways we can explain the benefits of the question and answer method of teaching doctrine.
A coloring book has three components: (1) Lines, which define the pictures, (2) each picture as a whole, and (3) whatever colors a child might choose to fill in the pictures.
With a coloring book, if someone colors outside the lines, the scene the artist originally intended gets messed up or hidden – no longer recognizable. The outlines are there to guide the child, whose hand is not as skilled and steady as the original artist's. The lines help the child color the ideal picture.
With the question and answer method of teaching doctrine, the questions and answers act as outlines to help the child see a clear picture of doctrine the way it ought to be understood. The Kids 4 Truth curriculum strives to define the lines of a child’s theology – it gives children a guide by which to "see truth" rightly. Kids 4 Truth wants to help establish those lines and help children "see" the big picture of truth as the Artist originally intended them to see it.
Matthew 22:37 – Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
We think it is dangerous to color outside the lines, but we think it is just as dangerous not to have clearly defined lines. Children are not stupid, but they can be easily misled or distracted. We want to make God's truth unmistakably clear. We want them to see and understand for themselves (without confusion) what God is trying to teach about Himself through His Word.
What we do in the Kids 4 Truth program might also be compared to a skeleton, the idea of an internal bone structure that provides support for the whole human being, from the inside out. Through systematic, catechetical questions and answers, we try to build for kids a strong "skeleton" of the fundamentals of theology. The "muscles" and "skin" of nuanced biblical knowledge, weightier issues, and practical applications (external behaviors, for example) can be added onto a stalwart "skeleton" of foundational facts about the great and good God of the Bible – Who He is, what He is doing, and what He expects of us.
Before leaving on a journey, we consult a map to help us find major landmarks and lay out the trip. The catechetical questions and answers Kids 4 Truth uses are a way to chart out the main points of a Bible-based, God-centered theology. These questions and answers outline 12 essential themes of biblical doctrine. Through them, children are led to an orderly understanding. With an overall knowledge of the "map," a child can have some orientation. He can get his bearings. Children who know where they came from and where they ought to be headed have a head start in the journey of learning about God. Their Bible study can be all the more profitable, their living all the more fruitful, and their praise and thankfulness to God all the more intense.
A catechetical approach to teaching doctrine can be compared to looking at the box top of a jigsaw puzzle before you start fitting all of those hundreds of little pieces together. It is very important to refer to the big picture and have it clearly in mind. Being human, we can get bogged down or discouraged by irrelevant details, or we may go off on some tangent, sidetracked by an issue that is not crucial to the ultimate goal of filling out the whole big picture.
Kids 4 Truth emphasizes 12 main theological themes, using 120 key questions and answers. These give a God-centered reference point, enabling a child to make sense out of the innumerable details found in Scripture. They can look at the collection of questions and answers, like you look at a puzzle's box top, and see that the whole of Scripture is indeed "all about God!" From there, other details and issues tend to fall into place.
As children begin to grasp the truth in an orderly fashion, albeit in simple form, they can have somewhere to look for direction as they seek to understand what God is revealing about Himself to them in Scripture.
The actual word catechism means to “sound down.” This carries the idea of projecting words toward someone, in order to gauge the depth and breadth of knowledge and understanding. Similar to the sonar on a boat that sends out pings to measure distances and discern "what’s down there," the Kids 4 Truth worker can send out questions to probe the children's hearts and minds. Well-crafted questions open hearts and provoke thoughtfulness. Well-crafted answers indicate the receptiveness and responsiveness of the children's hearts and minds.