Today many churches and Christian organizations publish "statements of faith" that outline their beliefs. We do that here at Redeemer Community Church. But in the past it was expected that documents of this nature would be so biblically rich and carefully crafted that they would be memorized and used for Christian growth and training. They were written in the form of questions and answers, and were called catechisms (from the Greek katechein which means "to teach orally or to instruct by word of mouth"). The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 and Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms of 1648 are among the best known, and they serve as the doctrinal standards of many churches in the world today.
Catechetical instruction is less individualistic and more communal. Parents can catechize their children. Church leaders can catechize new members with shorter catechisms and new leaders with more extensive ones. Because of the richness of the material, catechetical questions and answers may be integrated into corporate worship itself, where the church as a body can confess their faith and respond to God with praise.
Because we have lost the practice of catechesis today: "Superficial smatterings of truth, blurry notions about God and godliness, and thoughtlessness about the issues of living—career-wise, community-wise, family-wise, and church-wise—are all too often the marks of evangelical congregations today..." (From Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way, by Gary Parrett and J. I. Packer, published by Baker, 2010.)
At Redeemer Community, we cherish the creeds of the ancient church and the reformation. We find them to be Theologically rich and Scripturally soaked. We do not see them as a replacement for the Text of Holy Scripture, but as a beautiful and meaningful summation of its most glorious truths. We highly commend the Heidelberg Catechism for adults and children. We will be using this catechism for the next year in both our corporate worship and in our weekly encouragement and instruction.
Here are some other catechisms we would recommend for your study and devotion