Monthly Archives: May 2016

Mission and the Small Catechism: Aspects of the Connection, and Realities to Face

The connection between mission and the Small Catechism has a number of aspects. Some of them are:

  • state of catechesis
  • marriage
  • family
  • congregation
  • community
  • generations

Some realities we need to face are that:

  • The state of catechesis is poor.
  • We are suffering a death rate among our own offspring who, after being confirmed, depart the faith. This is death by apostasy.
  • The strength of outreach depends on the strength of inreach.
  • Because we are vague and faint on the Catechism, our outreach is weak.
  • We need to strengthen catechetical inreach in marriage, the family, and the congregation for their own sakes, and then also for the sake of outreach to the community.
  • The Small Catechism teaches what needs to be presented in evangelism and outreach. It contains the six chief parts of Christian doctrine. Do we think something else is what outreach should present?

I have been writing a series of articles that make initial rough sketches of these aspects and realities.

State of Catechesis

Marriage

Family and Congregation

Community

Generations

I welcome your feedback, ideas, suggestions, evidences, and experiences in these areas. Please use the contact form to write to me.

“The faith that saves trusts in Christ alone. The faith that condemns trusts in self. The Divine Service is ordered so we might trust in Christ alone and not in ourselves.”

Rev. Robert Mayes, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Beemer, NE and Zion St. John Lutheran Church, Wisner, NE Jr. Catechesis — (Curriculum B: Biblical and Liturgical) Cat. 2: Commandments 1-3; Divine Service Structure), 2015, as found at “Catechesis in Normal Words“, Big Red Lutheran, James Howard DeLoach, Editor.

Taking Another Look at Gospel Freedom, by Andrew Strickland, on Higher Things

Andrew Strickland has written a wonderful article that is published at Higher Things, titled “Taking Another Look at Gospel Freedom.”

Here are a few excepts to whet your appetite to read the entire article:

Trying to achieve theosis while working in a warehouse and going to college was a really bad idea. Theosis is the belief in Eastern Orthodoxy that one can have real union with God, and participate in the divine nature. To say I was struggling would be an understatement.

I dug through my books and dusted off Luther’s Small Catechism. I was rediscovering it with a new sense of freedom. That freedom was found in the Gospel.

HT: Facebook group member Karen Twenhafel for pointing this out.

“Every One His Witness” and the Small Catechism

Rev. Mark Wood, Director of Witness & Outreach Ministry/Revitalization, Office of National Mission–LCMS, reports in the 2016 LCMS Convention Workbook about the role of the Small Catechism in the program.

Here are some brief excerpts, from page 25.

Every One His Witness was developed from the ground up as a Lutheran evangelism program.

. . .

The core module of Every One His Witness is made up of three major components:

1.  The theological basis for witnessing

2.  The “LASSIE” [Listen, Ask, Seek, Share, Invite, and Encourage] approach for witnessing

3.  The use of Luther’s Small Catechism as a resource for witnessing

The theological basis for witnessing starts by addressing and debunking common misunderstandings of evangelism, especially those which have resulted from the influences of American Evangelicalism (i.e., Arminianism). From a clean starting point, Every One His Witness continues by demonstrating the correct understanding of evangelism as an activity centered in Jesus Christ (i.e., evangelism is “all about Jesus”). Using the doctrine of election by grace as the foundation for witnessing, Every One His Witness dismisses Law-based approaches to moving people to action and puts forward a Gospel-based motivation for joining the triune God in His mission as His instruments for seeking and saving those who are lost.

. . .

Every One His Witness makes use of Luther’s Small Catechism in all aspects of LASSIE to guide the witness in discerning the unchurched person’s worldview, gaining insight into the person’s spiritual condition, discovering a point of connection with the person, and determining what to share with the person when speaking of Jesus (e.g., Law or Gospel, specific topics, appropriate passages of Scripture).

Guest Post – Bob Myers Intro to Video, Nestingen on “The Catechism as handbook for the Christian’s worship, prayer, and calling”

Editor’s Note:

When I saw Bob Myers sharing this video on Facebook, I wanted to provide an introduction and promo for it here but did not have the time. Bob graciously agreed to do this for me, and Got ‘Er Done  the same day. Thanks Bob!

Bob is retired from the U. S. Navy and the U. S. Navy Blue Angels. He describes himself on Facebook as a “Son, husband, father, grandfather, brother, beggar at the Lord’s table.” When my wife and I were heading to vacation at Navarre Beach this past March, he hospitably invited us to his church, Immanuel Lutheran Church in Pensacola, Florida. We were blessed by two services there during the week, and Bob presented me with a set of his Small Catechism memory cards and Yshnog. Bob is alway doing stuff to spread and strengthen the faith.

Here’s Bob’s intro and promo …

Luther’s Small Catechism is a confession of faith that I have come to love in the years since becoming a Lutheran as an adult.

These basics of Christian doctrine, what some have called “the Layman’s Bible,” teach us in a condensed version what we are to do and what we are not to do in the first chief part, and then in the subsequent parts are shown who God is and what God has done for us.

God’s gift of the internet gives the modern parent or grandparent precious resources for our use in teaching the faith. We can search for papers and articles, videos and presentations that help us “hand over the goods.” I’ve been able to use a series from the Higher Things organization called “Video Catechism” to prepare lessons and to teach 6th-8th grade students the basics of the faith.

While searching YouTube for resources and presentations I came across this gem posted by Lutherske Fordypningsdager. My computer translates Lutherske Fordypningsdager as “Lutheran Specialization Days.” It is an annual forum in Norway to promote the central and life-giving truths of the classical Lutheran confession of faith. Their focus is on the proclamation of the Word of God in law and gospel. They have attendees from a variety of denominations and confessions of faith. This lecture was from the 2015 forum.

The video, “The Catechism as handbook for the Christian’s worship, prayer, and calling” by Dr. James A. Nestingen, takes a look inside the first three parts of the catechism. He reminds us that we are creatures of God, and who we are as creatures of God, and who we are in Christ Jesus. To watch and listen to Dr. Nestingen is to witness a man clearly and lovingly confess the faith. His skillful weaving of story into what he teaches helps the listener remember what he has been taught. It also models for us what it looks like, what it sounds like, to teach the faith. Built on the framework that is the confession that we learn by heart, we’re given examples to help us pass on that faith.

Preview of Praying Luther’s Small Catechism: The Pattern of Sound Words, by John T. Pless

Click the link here for a PDF preview of Praying Luther’s Small Catechism: The Pattern of Sound Words, by John T. Pless, scheduled to be released by CPH this July.

Some of the Table of Contents:

Chapter 1:  Praying the Catechism

Chapter 2:  The Ten Commandments: An Agenda for Christian Prayer

Chapter 3:  The Apostles’ Creed: The Trinitarian Shape of Christian Prayer

Chapter 4:  The Lord’s Prayer: Prayer under the Pressure of the Cross

Chapter 5:  Holy Baptism: Calling on the Name Given Us

Chapter 6:  Confession, Absolution, the Office of the Keys: Absolution Opens Lips for Prayer

Chapter 7:  The Sacrament of the Altar: The Promise from which Prayer Flows

Chapter 8:  Give Us Our Daily Bread: Morning, Evening, and Mealtime

Chapter 9:  Table of Duties: Prayer in Our Callings

Appendices

1.  The Catechism as the Handbook for the Vocation of the Laity in Worship and Prayer

2.  Morning and Evening Prayers as Reflctions of the Our Father

3.  The Psalms Organized according to the Lord’s Prayer

4.  Preparation for Confession for Confession and Absolution According to the Ten Commandments

1956 WELS-NPH “Gausewitz” Catechism Memory Cards

LutheranCatechism.com today releases Small Catechism memory cards using the 1956 WELS-NPH “Gausewitz” translation.

In an article titled, “Carl Gausewitz: Church Man and Catechist,” Edward C. Fredrich says,

It would be safe to assume even without statistical evidence that 90 percent of the members in our church body [the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod] learned the rudiments of the Christian religion from the Gausewitz Catechism in either its original or revised form.

Gausewitz’s edition of the Catechism in German and English was published by Northwestern Publishing House in 1917. Gausewitz died about 10 years later. His catechism was revised and published by NPH in 1956. In these two editions, Gausewitz’s Catechism has had a very long run.

A LutheranCatechism.com reader used the contact form to send an inquiry about whether I had any plans or interest to publish Small Catechism memory cards using the “Gausewitz” catechism.  That was on April 21, 2016. On the same day, I wrote to the Coordinator of Copyrights and Permissions at NPH inquiring about the copyright status and whether LutheranCatechism.com could obtain permission to use the “Gausewitz” text. Within a week, permission was granted. In this field of work, that is very fast. The text is copyrighted by NPH, by whose permission and generosity this new resource of memory cards is given freely to the world.

This free resource lets anyone print memory cards, each containing a portion of Luther’s Small Catechism, to use as a memorization aid, for teaching children, or for meditation and prayer. Simply download the free PDF file containing the cards and an instructions file from the distribution page. Then follow the instructions to print and separate the cards.

This is the ninth translation in the series of Small Catechism memory cards. Previously LutheranCatechism.com published memory cards using the following translations:

Memory Card - 3rd Commandment Meaning - 1956 WELS-NPH 600px

 

Parents, your children are your primary disciples

Parents, you have disciples. Primary and secondary ones. Your children are your primary disciples. Here are some excerpts from an article by Pastor James Uglum that crystalize these truths.

The kids that God has entrusted to you are your primary disciples. As Christian parents we have the privilege of not simply making disciples, but raising them. And that is both a joyous task and a heavy one. Simply “going to church” each week for one hour won’t cut it. Having your kids baptized and then never darkening the doors of a church, or speaking to them of Jesus again won’t cut it. Jesus didn’t just meet up with his disciples once a week for an hour. He lived with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for three years.

The kids that God has entrusted to you are your primary disciples. And as their mom and dad you have the privilege, joy and responsibility to lead them. This has to be intentional on your part. There are literally a million different things that vie for your family’s attention. …

But as disciples ourselves, we are called to live with Jesus as the center of our lives. And this starts at home. Like the original twelve; discipleship isn’t just a one day a week for an hour commitment. Being a disciple of Jesus is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week gig. And our kids need to be able to see that and hear that from us through the noise and commotion of whatever else is happening at any given moment.

Pastors Who Teach the Catechism: Trouble, Labor, Danger, & Trials

Doctor Martin Luther describing the lot of pastors who teach the truth in the Catechism, from his preface to the Small Catechism.

Therefore look to it, ye pastors and preachers! Our ministry is a different thing now from what it was under the pope; it has now become earnest and wholesome. Hence it involves much more trouble and labor, danger and trials, and has but little reward and gratitude in the world. But Christ Himself will be our Reward if we labor faithfully. To this end may the Father of all grace help us; and to Him be praise and thanks forever, through Christ, our Lord!  Amen.

Dr. Martin Luther, Preface, Small Catechism, 1956 WELS-NPH “Gausewitz” translation.