The New City Catechism: A Birthday Celebration

Not every birthday is cause for raucous celebration.

But today’s an exception.

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On October 14, 2012, The Gospel Coalition, in partnership with Redeemer Presbyterian Churchannounced the New City Catechism (hereafter NCC), a church-wide teaching tool primarily covering The Apostles’ Creed, The Ten Commandments and The Lord’s Prayer. Created by Tim Keller and Sam Shammas, the NCC met a few predictable minor quibbles (e.g., “Why are they messing with the old catechisms?” “The sacraments don’t receive enough attention!” “Only 52 questions?” “There they go with their ‘city = better’ schtick again,” etc.) But on the whole the NCC was widely welcomed as a timely tool in the catechetical arsenal.

If the idea of tackling the esteemed Heidelberg or Westminster catechisms are daunting (for my money, the best edition is this for the former and this for the latter, and for family devotions this set is indispensable), then the NCC is for you. It’s the gateway drug of catechisms. And I mean that as a compliment.

It’s difficult to measure a catechism’s immediate impact, and it will likely take a generation to ascertain lasting effects on individuals, families and churches. But two years since its release, it seems like the NCC is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

I contacted Collin Hansen, TGC’s editorial director, and asked for some internet stats for the NCC. Here’s the lowdown:

  • On an average day, around 500 people visit the New City Catechism website.
  • The iPad app has been downloaded over 30,000 times.

I’m no web metrics guru, but I’d call those decent numbers, especially for something containing the word “catechism,” a word that sounds stodgy, archaic and quasi-Roman Catholic, striking fear and triggering spontaneous nervous ticks for the uninitiated.

But fear no more.

Here’s where to begin with the NCC:

  • Tim Keller’s introduction, where he clearly and simply explains catechism, offering a convincing polemic for the NCC.
  • The iPad app (free). TGC’s web team is nearing a fix for the iOS 8 bug, so stay tuned.
  • Droid user? This app’s for you. (Also free)
  • Luddite? Download the PDF here.
  • My personal favorite? This tabletop version…

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…and it’s available here for a paltry $6.00. It’s a beauty.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church and The Gospel Coalition deserve hearty thanks for producing such a deceptively simple yet essential 21st century teaching tool covering the basics of the Christian faith. And although it’s not groundbreaking, if it helps create a catechetical revolution (as I think it is), J.I. Packer would be glad. So would Calvin, Luther, and a host of other notable committed catechists.

So happy 2nd birthday, New City Catechism! You’re looking pretty stout for a toddler. And to think you’ve only got 449 years to go till you reach big brother Heidelberg’s age.

May God grant you—and your older siblings—bigger and better birthdays to come.

Creeds, Kids and Cash

This summer I’m encouraging my kids to learn the three basics of catechism, i.e. The Ten Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer and The Apostles’ Creed. For all of July they must memorize—verbatim—all three essentials of the Christian faith.

I culled from various renditions, scrupulously edited them for content and punctuation, and printed them on card stock and gave a copy to each of our children. I aimed for one essential catechism for everyone (i.e. one not just for children while a different version for adults, but one singular catechism for everyone).

As an incentive for memorizing them (when I was a younger parent I would have disdainfully called it bribery), we put out a monetary award, as well as a family celebratory breakfast at our favorite breakfast haunt.

So far this morning, while listening to some upbeat bluegrass music, one of my daughters was speed-rapping to The Apostles’ Creed. Disturbing combination but I’ll take it.

Download the PDF here.


The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17)

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below—you shall not bow down to them or worship them.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony.
  10. You shall not covet.

The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day he rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven,

and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.