In place of this week’s midweek meditation, I’d like to share a fuller preview of what’s coming up in our different levels of regular Sunday school this fall, starting this Sunday, September 18, at 9am.
Adult Sunday School: Early Church History
Location: Sanctuary (also available by livestream and recording)
Led by: Pastor Dave Capoccia
In the adult Sunday school class, we’re going to begin by spending eight weeks looking at the history of the Christian church in its earliest phase: from the Day of Pentecost to the end of the Western Roman Empire (about AD 30-476). We’ll talk about how Christianity expanded widely in the midst of persecution, how government toleration and promotion turned out to be a mixed blessing for the church, and how early Christian leaders had to contend vigorously for apostolic teaching in the face of serious heresies—many of which have reappeared today, 2000 years later!
Though church history never trumps the teaching of the Bible, we’ll discover together just how valuable church history is for Christians in explaining the origin of various religious practices and ideas, in delivering encouragement through the steadfast example of past believers, and in imparting warning about how professing believers sometimes went astray. Join us for this exciting and valuable study!
Children’s Sunday School (K*-6th Grade): The New City Catechism
Location: Lower Level Children’s Classroom
Led by: Joyce Jin, Kristen Kohne, Greg Ho
Speaking of church history, one valuable tool that Christians have often used to teach God’s truth is a catechism. A catechism is a summary of biblical truth presented in question and answer format. Catechisms were many times used, especially in the centuries after the Protestant Reformation, to educate new converts and children regarding the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Through repetition, those undergoing catechism (i.e. catechists) would memorize a set of questions and answers and emerge with a competent understanding of the core doctrines of Christianity. Note that catechisms are not Bible trivia, rather the reinforced truths shape a catechist’s understanding of salvation and of the world itself.
These days, we may end up quoting historical catechisms without even realizing it. You have perhaps heard of this question and answer: “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” That’s the first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1648. Or you may sing the song from Keith Getty and others that asks, “What is our hope in life and death? Christ alone, Christ alone.” That’s a paraphrased version of the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism of 1543. These simple questions and answers contain within them monumental truths, and we not only want to appreciate those truths ourselves but pass them on to our children.
Which is where our new children’s Sunday school curriculum comes in: The New City Catechism. Developed by The Gospel Coalition, The New City Catechism is basically an updated version of the great historical Christian catechisms for use in teaching children today. The New City Catechism goes through 52 key questions and answers, one per week, related to three main areas of biblical instruction:
1.) God, creation/fall, and law
2.) Christ, redemption, and grace
3.) Spirit, restoration, and growing in grace
Each Sunday, then, our plan is to introduce and explain the different questions and answers of this catechism and then help our children memorize them. Through the singing, teaching, drilling, and other activities that will make up our children’s Sunday school class, we trust that our kids will not only grow in their understanding of biblical truth but will also be served for years to come as the truths they diligently memorize come to greater understanding and appreciation in the future. We hope that your children can be part of this study!
If you would like more information about The New City Catechism or would like to read through it, you can visit http://newcitycatechism.com/.
*Unfortunately, contrary to what I previously indicated, we will not be able to include Pre-K children in Children’s Sunday School this year.
Teen Sunday School (7th-12th Grade): The New City Catechism, advanced
Location: Lower Level Teen Classroom
Led by: Caleb Dagnall, Juliana Dagnall, and Aleksey Chernyakhovskiy
Our teen Sunday school class will also be going through The New City Catechism but at a more advanced level. After all, though historical Christian catechisms have often had younger children particularly in mind, the catechisms were designed to instruct people of all ages. When we think about the need to spiritually equip our teens, we know that they also need a foundational understanding of God, the world, and the gospel according to the Bible, which The New City Catechism will help provide.
Therefore, our teen Sunday school class will also be learning, discussing, and memorizing the questions and answers of The New City Catechism this year. As we work to instill the truths of Scripture in our teens, we will be particularly keen to talk about how these truths should make a difference in their lives and shape the way our teens respond to the anti-biblical ideas of our culture. We would love to have your teens be part of this important study.
The teachers very much appreciate your participation and prayers as we launch these classes, alongside our seasonal baptism and pre-membership class, this upcoming Sunday. May the Lord be pleased to bless our efforts, build up his church, and glorify his name!