The discussion that has been taking place in this spot received an interesting addition the other day. It is not on the spot itself but came to me by e-mail. We have been asking questions about the nature of conversion and what makes people come to, or leave the faith. Now the discussion comes about catechesis – or the instruction in the faith. A Pastor , who I will leave anonymous writes,
You wrote that Kurt Marquardt said years ago, that we have catechized our people to “be the 4000 sitting down to be served rather than the harried 12 ready to multiply the blessings of Christ”. Having had Marquardt as a prof this quote brought back many memories and forced me to think about something that has been niggling at my brain for a while and that is catechesis itself. While I was in school and since I graduated from the seminary the word has almost become a mantra. Having problems with factions in the church? More catechesis. Fighting over the liturgy versus praise worship? More catechesis. Continued questions about closed communion? More catechesis. So here is my issue as clearly as I can express it. Why, after decades of the most intense catechetical instruction, does our church body suffer the same malaise that all Christian denominatians are suffering and that is a loss of membership and the daunting fact that we are not even replacing the members that we lose through translation into eternity?
This is a great question and it deserves some serious consideration. If catechesis is the answer then why are we in the same boat as the churches that have poor or no catechesis? A reliance upon our belief that the Bible is true might supply an idea especually Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Tim 4 –
1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
It seems paradoxical and it is. Preach the word and carefully instruct. No one is going to listen but your task and the task of the church is to preach the word and carefully instruct. Our President says the same in the “Witness” section of the graphic above -“Today the fundamental gift and task of the Lutheran Church is to bear witness to Jesus Christ.”