(St. Paul Church’s Announcements to Read and Know)
“The best way to help your fellow Christian is to attend church on Sunday, participate in catechesis, bring your kids to Sunday school and youth group.“
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Below is an excerpt from, “The Evangelical Church is Breaking Apart” by Peter Wehner which was published in The Atlantic, October 24 this year. You can read the full essay on The Atlantic’s website. Wehner’s main concern is that Christians across America have embraced the worst aspects of our culture, and the aggressive, unforgiving mindsets which characterize so much of our politics, have found their way into American churches. This may be the case in some churches more than others, but it’s what Wehner says about teaching that really caught my eye:
What we’re seeing is massive discipleship failure caused by massive catechesis failure.
[catechesis is the process of instructing and informing people through teaching.] The evangelical church in the U.S. over the last five decades has failed to form its adherents into disciples. So there is a great hollowness.
Culture catechizes…culture teaches us what matters and what views we should take about what matters.
Our current political culture has multiple technologies and platforms for catechizing—television, radio, Facebook, Twitter, and podcasts among them. People who want to be connected to their political tribe—the people they think are like them, the people they think are on their side—subject themselves to its catechesis all day long, every single day, hour after hour.
On the flip side, many churches aren’t interested in catechesis at all.
They focus instead on entertainment because entertainment is what keeps people in their seats. But even those pastors who really are committed to catechesis get to spend, on average, less than an hour a week teaching their people. Only some churchgoers attend adult-education classes and even fewer attend Bible study and small groups. Cable news, however, is always on. So if people are getting one kind of catechesis for half an hour per week, and another for dozens of hours per week, which one do you think will win out?
People come to believe what they are most thoroughly and intensively catechized to believe, and that catechesis comes not from the churches but from the media they consume, or rather the media that consumes them. The churches have barely a snowball’s chance in hell of shaping people’s lives.
At St. Paul Lutheran Church, catechesis has been ongoing since 1878.
Even last year when we put our adult education and Sunday school on hold because of the pandemic, I continued to teach confirmation. But we’re trying very hard now to bring everything back in full swing. It’s true, only some churchgoers partake in the catechesis of the Church, and even those who do, receive a small amount compared to what they’re hearing from other sources. Nevertheless, Jennifer Gatke and I, along with the Sunday School staff encourage you to partake in adult education between services, and if you have kids, bring them to Sunday School, participate in family night and youth group on Wednesday evenings, and the Senior Center on Wednesday afternoon.
On top of that, you like to help people, don’t you? Of course, you do.
All churchgoers like to help their fellow Christians. Do you know one of the best ways you can help the people of your church? No, it’s not raking up their leaves or cleaning out their rain gutters.
The best way to help your fellow Christian is to attend church on Sunday, participate in catechesis, bring your kids to Sunday school and youth group.
In being there, you make the church stronger—more robust. By participating, you embolden others in believing that the church is not dying or breaking apart. You reinforce in the people’s hearts and minds that the Holy Spirit is at work, bringing people to hear the Word of God and teaching His wisdom and knowledge. You give credence to everyone else who’s there with you that the Church will prevail against the gates of hell and endure to the end. Who wouldn’t want to do all that?