Our Lord gave a mandate to His Church to baptize and teach, when He said: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) With those words Jesus teaches that the process of making disciples involves two things: baptizing and teaching. Most, if not all of the children in our congregation receive Holy Baptism as infants or as very young children, and that fulfills the first part of our Lord’s mandate. However, the second part then commences as we begin to teach them “all that (He) has commanded.” In the Church that teaching is called catechesis, and it involves forming children in the shape of the Christian faith.
Catechesis takes place in both the home and at church. In order to assist parents with the catechesis of their children in the home, Faith Lutheran Church gives age appropriate books to children to assist them and their parents in this process of faith formation. The books are given out as follows . . .
When children enter Pre-school they are eligible to begin Sunday School, and with that they receive the Follow and Do book set, which illustrates each of the parts of Luther’s Small Catechism for young children. When children enter the Second & Third Grade Sunday School class, they receive a copy of My First Catechism, which contains the text of Luther’s Small Catechism along with illustrated Bible stories that relate to each item in the Catechism. When children enter the Fourth & Fifth Grade Sunday School class, they receive an ESV Bible, which they will use later on when they do Junior Catechesis with Pastor O’Connor (it is also the same translation used in the lectionary of the Divine Service). When children enter the Sixth Grade they are ready to begin Junior Catechesis with Pastor O’Connor, and with that they receive their own copy of Lutheran Service Book. Along with the Bible and the catechetical materials that Pastor O’Connor uses, Lutheran Service Book serves as the basic text for Junior Catechesis, since it contains the Small Catechism, the three creeds, and the liturgy of the Divine Service. Finally, High School youth participating in Bible Class receive a subscription to Higher Things, a magazine for Lutheran youth.
This book program is important for two reasons. First, as a congregation we need to be committed to assisting in the process of Christian formation that flows forth from our Lord’s mandate to baptize and teach. Indeed, this is one of the most basic and fundamental tasks that Christ has given to His Church. Second (and related to the first point), we want to be committed to ministering to children and their families.
Each new Sunday School year begins with “Rally Day” – usually held on the first Sunday after Labor Day. Every year on this day each child of our congregation receives their appropriate book/gift in church, after the Divine Service. We pray God’s blessing upon all of our children and their families, as they grow together in God’s Word of love for them in His Son.