As we’ve gone through the Story Formed Way, some of the members of the core group have had questions about what we specifically believe on certain points of doctrine. This is understandable. As dedicated Christians, many of us have read books or listened to Christians speakers or radio programs that all are given from different theological backgrounds. If it has been years since your confirmation class, you might have forgotten some of the finer points of Lutheran Doctrine.
Martin Luther actually created his Small Catechism as a tool for the common Christian to be able to learn true doctrine. Originally, the Catechism wasn’t something a 13 or 14 year old child would open for the first time in a church building as they began confirmation class. Rather, it was something a Christian Father used to teach his family the true faith and to help them memorize scripture. Martin Luther intended for you, as scripture exhorts us in Deut 6:1-9, to take every opportunity to teach your children the ways of God throughout the entire day. I encourage all you fathers and mothers to start teaching your children the faith daily through the help of the catechism.
Our core group for the Church Plant would be well served in going back to the catechism as well. It covers what we believe as Lutherans on major points of doctrine such as The Ten Commandments, The Creed, The Lord’s Prayer, The Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Confession, The Sacrament of the Altar, etc. Yet it’s not just Luther’s understanding that is recorded in this book.
Included in the Catechism are many bible verses that are the source of what we believe and teach as Lutherans. This will come in handy as you engage with unchurched friends. They’ll want to know what we believe, but they won’t care much at all about Luther’s words. They’ll be more interested in what the bible says. Luther’s words will simply guide you to truth taught in all of the bible verses that are referenced.
A PDF version of the Small Catechism can be found here for free. It is a good reference for Luther’s explanation of our understanding of each doctrine. However, it does not reference all of the Bible verses that are in the hard copy of the Catechism
The ESV version of the Catechism can be purchased at CPH.org. I recommend that each member of our core group dig out their catechism or purchase a new one.
The above image was found here.
Here’s some good advice on what to do with your Children in a Missional Community setting.
One of the many challenges that Community Groups face is how to handle children in the community. We have a key conviction that children should be included and seen as members of the Community Group.
This means they are seen as members of the community that need to be discipled with the gospel as we seek to be a community on mission. If we don’t count the children, then we could easily find ourselves in the situation one of our Community Groups faced where there were 14 adults and a total of 16 children. That’s 30 total people that must be considered and accounted for in order to even meet as a Community Group.
In New York City, there are no apartments that fit 30 people and even if there were, 16 children in one apartment is asking for chaos and destruction. It became unmanageable and impeded the ability of…
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Last week in the Core Group meeting for our church plant, we had a great conversation about Santa Claus. Obviously Santa is one of the most beloved and well-known characters in the West. Yet, should Christians teach their children about Santa? For my wife and I, we will not be teaching our daughter to believe in Santa for a few reasons:
- Christmas is about Jesus. It’s His birthday, not Santa Claus’. In fact, the word, “Santa Claus” actually comes from the Dutch word meaning St. Nicolas. He was a 3rd century Bishop of the Christian church in Myra Turkey. He was at the Council of Nicaea. He spent his life defending the faith and sharing his wealth with people in need. He was famous for following Jesus. Everything he did, all the gifts that he gave, was in response to the greatest gift he’d been given, eternal life through Jesus Christ. We should follow his example and make Jesus center of our Christmas season.
- Santa not only distracts from the greatest gift we have, eternal life in Jesus Christ, but it also distracts from the love of parents. I know many people who give 3 gifts from “Santa” and one or two from mom and dad. So the child grows up thinking that Santa loves them more than mom and dad. He gives bigger, better, or more gifts. Children don’t see how much they are blessed with the love of their parents, but rather their affection grows for someone else…who isnt’ even real.
- Teaching about Santa can damage the faith of our Children. Think about it. Many parents tell elaborate stories to their children about Santa. They have their kids leave out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve. Then in the morning, presents have appeared under the tree from “Santa.” The cookies and milk are gone. Some even go the extent of dressing up like Santa and visiting with the kids as the presents are delivered. Parents take their kids to the mall and they can meet Santa, tell him what they want, and it ends up being there on Christmas. What happens when the child finds out Santa isn’t real? How can we expect them to believe what we teach them about Jesus, who’ve they have never seen or talked to, when the Santa the had seen in the mall was a ruse?
Now I’m not saying get rid of anything that has to do with Santa. Nor am I telling you that you should teach your kids to crush the hope and dreams of their friends by proclaiming that Santa isn’t real.
Rather I am encouraging you to tell your children the truth. Don’t lie to them about something that distracts from the true meaning of Christmas.
I still enjoy Tim Allen’s “The Santa Claus” films and frosty and Rudolf films. I’ll tell my daughter that they are fun made up stories, but I’ll teach her about the real St. Nick and how he always pointed to Jesus. I’ll teach her that Christmas is the day we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. It’s all about Jesus. He is the greatest gift the world has ever received. So to celebrate that gift, we focus on Him and we give gifts to others, because we were given life through Jesus Christ.
If you are interested in learning more about the real St. Nicolas or about how the modern Santa Clause legends came about, visit the St. Nicolas Center’s website.
Concordia Publishing House sells a great book, Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend. It’s a great resources for teaching children about the real St. Nicholas.
There’s a new film coming out called Nicholas of Myra: The Story of St. Nicholas which looks to be a good quality film being made on the real St. Nick.
Have a Blessed Christmas!