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Sat Nov 30, 2013
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Cheerios® with a Side of Catechism
One morning at breakfast with my wife, Trisha, and four kids, I asked, “How can you glorify God?” To my surprise, the kids not only answered immediately, they answered correctly, and by singing! "By loving him and doing what he commands."
Here’s the back story to that delightful surprise, in two scenes.
A couple of years ago, someone here at Mars Hill received promotional copies of some kids music CDs. I guess he wasn’t sure what to make of them, so he offered to let me have them for my kids. At a quick listen, the lyrics seemed a bit unusual for kids songs, so I wasn’t sure what to make of them at the time either. So I gave to them to Trisha—perhaps she’d know what to do with them.
Several months ago, I was thinking through the various ways we train our children in Bible, theology, and prayer along with what we might want to add to our family rhythms. I thought it would be good to work through a catechism together during breakfast times. A catechism is a book or document giving a brief summary of the basic principles of Christianity in Q & A form. My next task was to find one adapted for children—it’s good for them to understand the words they memorize. Searching online, I stumbled upon this helpful one by Jared Kennedy.
The next task, I figured, was to make it fun. There’s just something about the very word catechism that made me think we were going to need some help from the fun department. Sometimes, fun is not my strong suit. There, I admitted it. But Trisha is great at engaging the kids in fun learning times, so I asked for her help. In the meantime, I jumped right it.
There’s just something about the very word catechism that made me think we were going to need some help from the fun department.
And that brings us back around to that morning at the breakfast table with the kids singing their responses. I kept asking, “Why should you glorify God?” Again, they responded in song, "Because he made me and takes care of me."
I’m thinking, "This is crazy. This is amazing! They already know this stuff. But how? And what’s up with these jingles?" We ended up working through the first page of questions and answers, which they sang nearly every response, verbatim. All the while, they were having a blast, laughing, and making up hand motions.
As it turned out, they’d beat me to the catechism game—by accident. Several months’ prior, Trisha had incorporated those CDs I brought home into the kids’ homeschooling curriculum. As part of their Bible learning, they would listen to the CDs and sing along. What we didn’t realize at the time was that these CDs are a kids catechism set to music, Questions with Answers by Dana Dirksen. She and her husband, James, produce these CDs and others like them through their ministry called Songs for Saplings. The catechism the Dirksens used was similar enough to the one I’d found online—both being adaptations of the Westminster—so the kids had already learned the first twenty questions before we began! Since discovering this, we’ve switched over to the catechism used in their songs, downloaded the free song sheets from their website, and tuned up my guitar.
Listening, playing, singing along—and occasionally writing a jingle of our own—family breakfast catechism time has been great fun, to the glory of God.
Here's Some Samples of Songs:
The songs that start with QWA are the ones formed from catechisms.