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How To Learn Luther's Small Catechism by Heart

by Pastor Paul Owens

photo of Pastor PaulDo you think often about the studs within the walls of your home or the framework in the ceiling? Probably not…but if they are not in place and true, your whole house will come crashing down. It is the same way with The Small Catechism; Christ is our true foundation and the Catechism provides a solid, user-friendly, time-tested framework for the household built on this foundation. Luther said: “I study it daily and remain a pupil of the Catechism my whole life... and I am convinced that God’s Word can never be entirely mastered.” (LW 14.8) In stressing the importance of knowing the Catechism by heart, Luther further says, “Every Christian should recite & learn it daily until s/he has proven that s/he has taught the Devil to death.” Here are a few tips to make sure the framework for your household is in place and sturdy.

  1. Daily investment: the SC isn’t something to leave in the dusty past or buried in a desk drawer. Spend a few minutes EACH DAY reciting a section of it out loud. A routine time is VERY helpful. Keep copies at your bedside, on your table, on your toilet tank so you can read it on a regular basis.
  2. Bit by bit: Even though it is “small,” you are not advised to try to cram the SC or swallow it whole. Learn a section by heart, then go on to another. Start with the 10 Commandments themselves (just a few at a time) and then go back and learn their meanings.
  3. Keep a sense of humor: especially when learning the SC with your kids. At any age, kids need to get silly and playful. They may want to race through the words or sing them or pronounce them with a funny accent. THIS IS GOOD. When you and your family get to the point where you can be playful with the Catechism and claim its words & the faith underneath them as your own, you are learning well.
  4. Music: there are some great musical versions of the SC out there. You can get it on CD or load them on an ipod. Look on the web for these two sources: Jay Beech and Faith Inkubators.
  5. Worship connection: Your brain loves connections, so does your soul. So if your congregation doesn’t already use the SC in worship, talk to the worship committee or your pastor about giving it a try. For example: the explanation of one of the articles of the creed makes a great confession of faith. At the very least, a congregation should give out copies of the SC like candy.
  6. Lifelong: Just like Luther, we are never done learning from the Catechism. To keep the framework sturdy and true, recite it out loud your whole life. Another way to do this is to pray the Catechism.

Be aware: Parents are the primary teachers for their children. Your congregation can and should support families in learning the SC…and the best place for that to happen is in the home…at the dinner table or bedside. As a parent, you are the most powerful person in your children’s life. Don’t expect someone else to do a job that God has given to you.

Purchase an excellent rendition of Luther's Small Catechism from ReClaim HERE!

Purchase an excellent rendition of Luther's Small Catechism for children from Sola Publishing HERE!