Inevitable Catechesis

By Joel A Hess

Dear parents, your kids will be catechized whether you like it or not.

For many churches, autumn marks the beginning of confirmation classes for young people. The season also witnesses many a pastor’s struggles to convince families to make instructing their children in the faith a top priority. Understandably, after spending long hours in school and extracurricular activities, even families that make Christian education a priority find little time to do it seriously.

Recently, the Pew Research Center released yet another study highlighting the increasing number of twenty-somethings who do not declare any religious affiliation. What’s more shocking is that whether a person went to the church or not doesn’t seem to matter. The number one reason this growing demographic leaves Christianity is because they don’t believe in it; they believe in something else! According to researchers, the most common culprits for rejecting the Faith are science and common sense.

Why do they leave the Church? That’s what they were instructed to do! Whether intentionally or not, most students are being catechized by social media and their schools not to believe in the teachings of Holy Scripture, even those catechized thoroughly!

Parents, you really have no choice as to whether or not to have your children instructed in the Lord. Your children will be catechized whether you like it or not. If not by you and the Church, then by the world. Someone will teach them right and wrong. Someone will teach them whom or what they should worship. Someone will tell them what to believe, what to trust, and what to avoid. Your kid will be instructed one way or another! And when a parent allows Christian instruction to take a back seat to everything else in life, she is effectively teaching her children to believe exactly that. Your child is being actively catechized about Jesus whether you want it or not!

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Increasingly, Christians seem to downplay the importance of kids learning the details of the faith, memorizing scripture, and getting to know why they believe what they believe. Time and time again, simpletons have thrown out shallow sayings like “It’s not a religion; it’s a relationship,” “Being in church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car,” and “I’m spiritual not religious.” Many a church and pastor have promoted these very ideas because they either believe it or have given up on teaching the faith and are just happy to have people sitting in the pew. Yet, kids brought up on this hogwash are guaranteed to leave the church when they are confronted by anything that challenges their undeveloped understanding of God.

Parents and pastors are afraid to bore students even for a moment. Yet, how quickly do we force our kid to spend hours studying Chemistry whether he likes it or not because we want him to be an engineer, own a home in the suburbs, and give us grandkids to watch on the soccer field? All the while, God’s Word is the only thing that gives life abundantly in Jesus Christ!

Meanwhile, schools have dramatically increased their demands of kids in everything from science projects to third grade soccer tournaments. Catechism gets the leftovers of a student’s attention. That would be fine if parents were teaching their kids at home. Unfortunately, that does not happen. Therefore, young people learn from their parents that Christianity and learning about God takes second place to learning about amoebas. They have divorced learning from faith and are just happy that Johnny comes to church with them, doesn’t do drugs and hasn’t gotten his girlfriend pregnant yet.

Then they are surprised when Johnny marks “none” on the census form when asked what religion he belongs to. Yet, there is no such thing as “none!” We all have been catechized in one religion or another.

People dance all around the issues of why Johnny doesn’t go to church anymore. It’s not because of society, a new philosophy, or a new discovery in science; it’s because his church and parents were afraid to catechized him, so someone else did!

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3 thoughts on “Inevitable Catechesis

  1. One place to start is Sunday School, stop buying into all the classifications of misbehavior. ADD/ ADHD is not as real as many think it is. Then, go to the parents who actually tell us that they would have their kids in Sunday School except for the Sunday soccer, football, and baseball leagues. Really? Then drag dad off the golf course on Sunday mornings, or away from the trout stream. How about the concerned parents club that brings the kids to Sunday School but never to worship and who either drop them off or sit in the narthex? I figure these are familiar encounters everywhere.

    I am not seeing new generations of “nones”. I see nominal Christians and “nones” of the past who used to go church pro forma simply being honest and letting their children be what their forebears have been. I know as many older generation catechised non-Christians as I do poorly catechised young ones. But didn’t Jesus tell us it would be this way? Matthew 13:1-23.

    Personal experience has taught me that the best catechesis comes from the pulpit, the liturgy, hymns, and a lively discussion of faith, at home. Nothing rote or tedious, certainly nothing boring.

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  2. When you think about it, why would we expect the results of kids abandoning the faith would be any different when they spend something like 30 hours a week being indoctrinated in the public school system and at best 3 hours a week receiving instruction in church? I know that going the home school route is costly in time and lost income by one or both of the parents, and that private schools may be financially out of reach for most families. Academic Co-ops run by parents are a possible alternative.

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