Monthly Archives: January 2016

Guest Post – On My Heart, a Lutheran memory work program, Amanda Moldstad

Editor’s Introduction:

Dr. Martin Luther said, “Let every one know therefore, that it is his duty … to bring up his children above all things in the fear and knowledge of God.”

A beautiful tool to help parents with this is  On My Heart, a Lutheran memory work program. This is nifty. What’s more, it is free. had to spread the word about this jewel, so we invited Amanda Moldstad to contribute the following Guest Post. Thank you, Amanda, for this outstanding gift to the Church and home, and for this Guest Post.

On My Heart

As Christian parents, we are given the task of training up our children in the truths of God’s word. One tool we use to accomplish this in our home is a memory work program we developed several years ago called On My Heart. We have made On My Heart available for free download at, and we hope it can be a blessing to many other families and congregations.

On My Heart is organized as a two-year cycle, broken into four 15-week semesters. Each week, children memorize content in four areas: the books of the Bible, Luther’s Small Catechism, Bible verses, and the Old and New Testament timelines.

The books of the Bible are taught in their entirety each semester and are the easiest area to memorize; children as young as two or three years of age can begin to recite their Bible books. Luther’s Small Catechism, with explanations, is covered over four semesters: the Ten Commandments; the Creed; the Sacraments, Keys, and Confession; and the Lord’s Prayer. We consider this to be the centerpiece of On My Heart, and the main reason why we created the program. Unless deliberate action is taken, children often are not thoroughly exposed to the areas of the Catechism until they reach confirmation class. We want our children to grow up knowing the doctrines of their faith! Sixty Bible verses are taught over the course of the program, roughly matched to the Catechism section each week. Finally, On My Heart covers the main events of the Old Testament timeline in semesters 1 and 3, and the New Testament timeline in semesters 2 and 4. We have found great value in giving our children a chronological view of Bible events—something that often fails to be communicated in standard Sunday school lessons. We also use motions with our timelines to make them more memorable and fun; a list of suggested motions can be found in the brief teacher’s guide included in the download.

We currently use On My Heart as a teaching tool for our own children at home. In the past we have also used it as a Sunday school opener at church. Presenting the new memory work and giving a brief summary of the timeline events for the week can be done in about 15 minutes. Children can recite the past week’s memory work before or after Sunday school if their families work on it at home during the week. Even for those families that don’t choose to review the content with their children at home, there is still great benefit in being exposed to the doctrines of their faith, hearing the Bible verses and stories, and reciting the books of the Bible each week. It has been our experience that at the very least, everyone regularly in attendance will learn the Bible books.

We have laid out the content of the On My Heart program on cards that can be printed, cut, and assembled on binder rings. The .pdf files are available for free download at, and you can find more thorough instructions for use there. The rings can be prepared and handed out to families at the beginning of the semester. If you are making a large batch for Sunday school use, be sure to allow plenty of time for assembly. Included in your download is a curriculum guide that also contains the full content of the program; it can be used on its own if you prefer not to make the rings.

We hope that On My Heart can be a blessing to your family or congregation!

Lent and the Catechisms — Pastor Joseph Abrahamson’s Article (and more)

It is 12 days to Ash Wednesday. Lent is almost upon us. What has this to do with Luther’s Catechisms?


Lent is an excellent time for reviewing the Six Chief Parts of Christian Doctrine. Pastor Joe Abrahamson, Faith Lutheran Church, Clara City, Minnesota authored an excellent article about this, titled “Luther’s Small Catechism and Lent,” Published at Brothers of John the Steadfast.

Pastor Abrahamson writes:

Our general outline for this yearly practice is as follows:

  • Ash Wednesday: The Ten Commandments-The Law Of God
  • Lent 1 Wednesday: The Creed-The Gospel of God
  • Lent 2 Wednesday: The Lord’s Prayer-The Response of Faith
  • Lent 3 Wednesday: The Sacrament of Baptism
  • Lent 4 Wednesday: The Office of the Keys and Confession
  • Lent 5 Wednesday: The Sacrament of the Altar
  • Maundy Thursday: Christian Questions and Answers

His approach recognizes and conveys:

  • The Structure of the Catechism and Teaching
  • How the Parts Work Together
  • The “What” of the Christian Faith
  • The “How” and “Where” of the Christian Faith
  • The Application to Our Lives

Head on over to his article at Brothers of John the Steadfast to see how Pastor Abrahamson develops these thoughts.

Keep watching because in the near future we also will be pointing to video teaching of the Small Catechism by Pastor Abrahamson.

For the Large Catechism, remember that provides without charge bulletin inserts for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter that present readings from Luther’s Large Catechism. See the blog post, “Free ! –– Bulletin Inserts — Large Catechism Readings for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter,” explaining those inserts and providing links to download the printer-ready PDFs.

Audio of 7 Lectures on Catechesis – from Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology

Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology has a 7-lecture collection on catechesis. They provide this audio collection either as 7 Mp3 files on CD, or as an Mp3 download.

The collection includes:

If I Had a Hammer-Introduction to Luther’s 95 Theses
Michael Albrecht

Catechetics and the Royal Priesthood
Peter Bender

The Parent: Chief Catechist of the Royal Priesthood
Peter Bender

Kenneth Korby

5 1/2 Sermons on Catechesis
Kenneth Korby

Liturgy and Catechesis
John T. Pless

The Catechism: Handbook for the Royal Priesthood
John T. Pless

Running time is 8 hours, 11 minutes. Price is $15.00.

Crisis of Catechesis — “Churches are full of activity, but may often fail to ensure quality teaching,” David Rueter

In the Preface of his Large Catechism, Luther states substantive reasons why the Christian faithful should continually use the catechism. Both the weighty reasons and the urgency remain today, Luther was concerned with the lack of teaching of the faith that he saw in the churches of his day. I believe that we face a similar crisis today. Churches are full of activity, but may often fail to ensure quality teaching, especially for the young. The Church continues to struggle against the prevailing winds of the culture …. While the culture pushes toward a conception of faith lacking in distinctions, faithful Lutheran pastors, DCEs, teachers, and, most importantly, parents seek with much prayer to impart the unique claims of the Christian faith into the hearts and minds of young people. … Catechesis is an educational practice of the Church that provides a portion of the pushing back against the tide of our culture. Through the sounding again of the truths of Scripture, one generation bequeaths to the next the essential core of Christianity.

David Rueter, Teaching the Faith at Home, p. 10 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2010).


Strategery — Why is this?

I have been burying the lead.

The front page has been sporting the core points of Dr. Martin Luther’s Preface to the Small Catechism. As great as that is, that does not say why this website exists. Some recent behind the scenes projects of have caused me to realize this. So the front page now has been changed to say:

The Catechism is strategic.

The Catechism is one of the most powerful and recurring engagements of laity by the Church with the truths of Scripture that are able to make one, from childhood, “wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)

Through this website, the Editor hopes to stir inclination, focus, encouragement, incentive, morale, knowledge, examples, demonstrations, and resources to:

  1. Parents. Restore the Small Catechism to active use by more parents in the home. Dr. Luther said repeatedly in the Catechism, “As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.”
  2. Pastors. Provide ideas and resources for pastoral catechesis.
  3. Teachers in Congregations. Provide assistance to teachers in Sunday school, vacation Bible school, Bible camps, and other teaching ministries.

The Quiet Crisis of Catechesis, Part 3, Published on Brothers of John the Steadfast

Brothers of John the Steadfast has published Part 3 in its serialization of William E. Thompson, “Catechesis: The Quiet CrisisConcordia Theological Quarterly 56  (1992) No. 2-3: 99-121. This serialization is published with the kind permission gladly given by the editor of Concordia Theological Quarterly .

Part 3 identifies the causes of the crisis. The late Rev. Thompson sets out the following:

Part 3 II. Causes of the Crisis
A. A Disrespectful Attitude
B. A Lack of Faith in the Means of Grace
C. The Adoption of Legalistic Goals
D. A Search for ShortcutsE. A Confusion in Ecclesiology

Head on over to Brothers of John the Steadfast to see this important discussion

Video – Mom helps young children memorize Third Article, Lord’s Prayer Introduction & 1st Petition

This is another encouraging video of home catechization provided to us by our Facebook group member, Melissa Sutton.

In this video, we see that young children can learn to memorize the Catechism. A very young boy recites the Third Article and its meaning. He and his older sister recite the Introduction of the Lord’s Prayer, its meaning, and the Second Petition.

All young children need prompts when learning to recite the Catechism from memory. It is interesting in this video how mom uses both verbal and sign prompts.

Melissa is taking advantage of a pedagogical truth that was expressed by G. H. Gerberding in these words:

The child must be instructed. Begin early. Let it learn to pray as soon as it can speak. … We quote again from Luthardt: ‘Let it not be objected that the child cannot understand the prayer. The way of education is by practice to understanding, not by understanding to practice.

H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, pp. 49-50 (Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887).

Even quite young children have some understanding of the words when they first begin to memorize them. After they have the words well fixed in their minds by repeated practice, more and more meaning comes to them.

Mom lets daughter keep Catechism. Guess where daughter puts it.

Our Facebook group member, and my daughter-in-law, Kim Halvorson, shared this anecdote:

Our daughters were cleaning their room, this is also when we routinely throw out the “papers” that accumulate in a 1st grader’s space, when one of them came out with a booklet. She looked at me and said, “Papa, gave this to me and said I could have it. May I please keep it?” She handed over a small booklet of the catechism. I told her that she should absolutely keep it and put it somewhere safe. Her next question was, “Is it ok if I keep it in my Bible?” I couldn’t think of a better place!


Luther deliberately reorganized the creedal material to concentrate on the saving work of the Triune God for us — Charles P. Arand

Luther deliberately reorganized the creedal material, without altering the wording, by reducing the twelve articles (corresponding to the twelve apostles) common in the late Middle Ages to the three articles common in the early church. More than a desire for historical accuracy on Luther’s part accounts for this rearrangement. He wanted to concentrate the catechumen’s attention on the saving work of the triune God and further emphasize the pro nobis character of God’s work “for us” in all aspects of our life.

“Luther on the Creed,” by Charles P. Arand, in The Pastoral Luther, ed. Timothy J. Wengert. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009, p 148.

Video – Mom leads two young children in opening of daily devotions – “Hey, I can do that!”

For many of us, video is such a good way to learn not only how to do things, but more basically, that we can do it.

The thought of fixing our home’s propane furnace intimidated me. But we have YouTube. Seeing it done did two things for me:

1.   It got me over the psychological hump of being fearful I could not do it.

2.   It let me understand some of the terminology and procedures described in written instructions.

These benefits, and more, also happen when we see video of things like Morning Prayer in the home. That is why it is such a blessing that member of our Facebook group, Melissa Sutton, has given us this video of leading her two young children in daily opening devotions.

In this video, you will see a nice, simple order for opening devotions in the home . You will see Melissa and her children incorporate some American Sign Language signs, and some signs the kids made up. Isn’t that neat? The kids make up their own signs!

If you haven’t tried leading devotions with your children, see if, after you watch this video, one of your reactions isn’t, “Hey, I can do that!

Of course, we don’t all have to do it the same way. Melissa shows us a good way. There are others. When our grandchildren visit and stay over, we use the format that Dr. Martin Luther provided in the Small Catechism for Evening Prayer and Morning Prayer. It is very simple, toadaly doable.

In coming days, we also will get the chance to see Melissa with her children in the closing of devotions and in memory work.