Catechesis integrating the Small Catechism with the Liturgy — Didache by Prof. John Pless

December 4th, 2013 Post by

didache-cover-300It seems like pastors are always looking for some ways in which to catechize their members of all ages (new or veteran ones) in the truths of the Scriptures and the Catechism.  This is what most catechetical materials are built around, but it often misses a third key to the Christian life, how our beliefs from Scripture and Catechism find their expression in our daily lives or in our worship (best found in the hymnal).  It can be said that the three most essential works for a Lutheran to have would be the Bible, the Small Catechism, and the Hymnal.  Catechesis should help reinforce that.

Didache” is a resource which seeks to do just that.  I have used it in catechesis in the past and it was a wonderful way to teach the faith and our expression of it in worship to new members coming out of a non-liturgical, non-sacramental background (heads up for all of those former evangelicals that have fallen off of the emotional roller coaster of evangelicalism).  Connecting the Scriptures to the Catechism to the Hymnal is a great thing to do for our people.

Formerly Didache could be obtained from University Lutheran Chapel of Minneapolis, MN where Professor Pless served as a pastor.  Now courtesy of Emmanuel Press it has been revamped and updated to fit with Lutheran Service Book and also expanded from its already excellent previous state.  From their description:

Didache instructs in a basic pattern of catechesis which recognizes that doctrine is drawn from the Holy Scriptures, confessed in Luther’s Small Catechism, and expressed in the hymnal. Using the structure of the Catechism, Prof. John Pless guides the reader deeper into these three books, demonstrating the interplay between what Lutherans confess (doctrine), how we receive Christ’s gifts in the Divine Service (liturgy), and how we pray and live under the cross of Jesus Christ (vocation).  Each chapter begins with a collect and ends with a suggested hymn, making Didache an ideal instruction manual for adult catechesis as well as a personal study guide into the Holy Scriptures. There are numerous Scripture references in the margins along with ample space for note-taking.

The cost for Didache is only $12, which is a good price considering the material involved.  If you go to the Emmanuel Press page for the work you can see some samples from it and browse it for yourself.

I would recommend this for pastors looking to catechize new members and help current members connect the dots between Bible to Catechism to Hymnal.  I would also recommend this for any Lutheran looking to have those dots connected for themselves.


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  1. Matthew Mills
    December 4th, 2013 at 16:05 | #1

    I used the previous edition to teach a class on baptism through an interpreter at a very “low-church” congregation in Pyeongtaek South Korea. It was a joy to see the enthusiasm for orthopraxis as Lutherans who had spent their lives worshipping in a more neo-evangelical setting started to get it. As I left my old copy w/ one of the elders there I need to pony up and get a new one, more so now that it’s linked up w/ the LSB.

    (This is not a paid political announcement, but for the purpose of full disclosure I was a parishioner of Pr. Pless at the ULC in the 80’s. This is a great resource.)

    Advent Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  2. Stef
    December 6th, 2013 at 09:33 | #2

    Kindle Kindle Kindle! Can someone not update these things and make them available on Kindle for those of us who can not store books!

  3. Matthew Mills
    December 6th, 2013 at 10:16 | #3

    @Stef #2
    It’s really skinny, (or the last edition was) and a steal at $12. Give it a read, and pass it on to your pastor if there’s no room for it in your life.

  4. R.D.
    December 10th, 2013 at 12:43 | #4

    @Matthew Mills #3

    I think his point is that he hardly has room for his toothbrush. His entire library may well be, out of necessity, all on his smartphone/tablet.

    Stefan brings up a good point. We need to get this stuff into the electronic realm.

  5. Matthew Mills
    December 10th, 2013 at 14:10 | #5

    @R.D. #4
    I am compelled to give a curmudgeonly “harrumph,” but feel free to do as you like.

  6. Jais H. Tinglund
    December 10th, 2013 at 14:48 | #6

    @Matthew Mills #5
    Looking at the calendar, I think “Baah, humbug!” would be a more appropriate response.

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