Dr. Martin Luther said, “Let everyone know therefore, that it is his duty … to bring up his children above all things in the fear and knowledge of God.”
A beautiful tool to help parents with this is On My Heart, a Lutheran memory work program. This is nifty, and it’s free. To spread the word about this jewel, I invited Amanda Moldstad to contribute the following information.
On My Heart
As Christian parents, we are given the task of training up our children in the truths of God’s word. One tool we use to accomplish this in our home is a memory work program we developed several years ago called On My Heart. We have made On My Heart available for free download at on-my-heart.com, and we hope it can be a blessing to many other families and congregations.
On My Heart is organized as a two-year cycle, broken into four 15-week semesters. Each week, children memorize content in four areas: the books of the Bible, Luther’s Small Catechism, Bible verses, and the Old and New Testament timelines
The books of the Bible are taught in their entirety each semester and are the easiest area to memorize; children as young as two or three years of age can begin to recite their Bible books. Luther’s Small Catechism, with explanations, is covered over four semesters: the Ten Commandments; the Creed; the Sacraments, Keys, and Confession; and the Lord’s Prayer. We consider this to be the centerpiece of On My Heart, and the main reason why we created the program. Unless deliberate action is taken, children often are not thoroughly exposed to the areas of the Catechism until they reach confirmation class. We want our children to grow up knowing the doctrines of their faith! Sixty Bible verses are taught over the course of the program, roughly matched to the Catechism section each week. Finally, On My Heart covers the main events of the Old Testament timeline in semesters 1 and 3, and the New Testament timeline in semesters 2 and 4. We have found great value in giving our children a chronological view of Bible events—something that often fails to be communicated in standard Sunday school lessons. We also use motions with our timelines to make them more memorable and fun; a list of suggested motions can be found in the brief teacher’s guide included in the download.
We currently use On My Heart as a teaching tool for our own children at home. In the past we have also used it as a Sunday school opener at church. Presenting the new memory work and giving a brief summary of the timeline events for the week can be done in about 15 minutes. Children can recite the past week’s memory work before or after Sunday school if their families work on it at home during the week. Even for those families that don’t choose to review the content with their children at home, there is still great benefit in being exposed to the doctrines of their faith, hearing the Bible verses and stories, and reciting the books of the Bible each week. It has been our experience that at the very least, everyone regularly in attendance will learn the Bible books.
We have laid out the content of the On My Heart program on cards that can be printed, cut, and assembled on binder rings. The .pdf files are available for free download at on-my-heart.com, and you can find more thorough instructions for use there. The rings can be prepared and handed out to families at the beginning of the semester. If you are making a large batch for Sunday school use, be sure to allow plenty of time for assembly. Included in your download is a curriculum guide that also contains the full content of the program; it can be used on its own if you prefer not to make the rings.
We hope that On My Heart can be a blessing to your family or congregation!