Article 63 — Catechism preaching
The consistory shall ensure that as a rule every Sunday the doctrine of God’s Word as summarised in the Heidelberg Catechism is proclaimed, preferably in the afternoon service.
Catechism preaching has always had an important place in the Reformed churches.
The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a confessing church. Her members have to know what she confesses and teaches. Teaching her members about her confession on a regular basis will be conducive to her spiritual well-being.
Catechism preaching is the administration of God’s Word in the full sense of the word. The many proof texts that a good edition of the Catechism contains, show that the contents have been taken from the Bible. The Catechism summarizes the doctrine of holy Scripture, obeys the apostle Paul’s command of 2 Timothy 2:2, that ‘the sacred deposit’ shall be passed on to the coming generations.
The origin of catechism preaching was a combination of what is today catechism-class and catechism preaching. First of all in the afternoon services the young members of the congregation were given instruction. They had to recite part of the Catechism, from the youngest group to the oldest. The minister then explained to them a “Lord’s Day”. The explanation ended with a sermon in which the whole congregation was addressed.
Later on these two elements were separated, so that today our youngsters normally have ‘catechism class’ on a weekday, while in one of the two church services catechism preaching takes place.
The great significance of catechism preaching becomes apparent when we compare the standard of preaching in those church groups that no longer have catechism preaching. The same could be said regarding the Scriptural knowledge of the average church member. We have every reason to be thankful to the Lord for this privilege.
Our churches would be wise to ensure that the regular catechism preaching is not interrupted by all sorts of ‘specials services’.
For several reasons the old practice of catechism preaching being in the afternoon service is no longer strictly followed.
The revised version of our Church Order simply says “preferably in the afternoon services”.