Saturday, September 08, 2007

Eternity in our children's hearts

This is the second in a series on Bailey family worship through the years.

Last time I touched some on memory work and young children; I'd like to continue on that theme.

We have always mixed catechism and Scripture as both are important for memorization. Catechism gives the big picture summary of revelation (ex: What is God?, What happens when we die?, etc) where Scripture memory provides the actual revelation to them.

Over time we have developed a system of short-term and long-term memory work which we go through each night in family worship and some on Saturdays. The short-term work consists of weekly Bible verses that we all learn (parents set the example!). On Saturday mornings the children recite that week's verse to me individually.

The long-term memory work consists of hymns, creeds/catechism, and Scripture. Over time each child memorizes a couple dozen hymns/psalms (one stanza usually) and we rotate through a couple of these each evening in family worship. Then, depending on which day of the week it is, we also recite together truths that we want our children to always know throughout their life:
Sunday: Psalm 23
Monday: Psalm 121
Tuesday: The Apostles' Creed
Wednesday: 1 Cor 13:4-7
Thursday: 10 commandments
Friday: The Lord's Prayer
Saturday: Heidelberg Catechism Q&A #1

I struggle to find time to keep fresh on the Shorter Catechism work, but most Saturdays I have the children recite all they know to me and we also review a few questions every evening during family worship. One controversial decision I've made is to pay them for their memory work (an idea supported by American puritan Cotton Mather). I pay $1 for each new answer recited from the shorter catechism (word perfect) and $0.25 for each review question answered correctly.

Our belief in all this is that we're laying a foundation in their lives--not with hay that will rot away over time, but with that which will last into eternity.


Susie said...

I'll be interested in knowing what Bob thinks about paying for memorization work. I guess if it works as a motivator to learn, why not???

Tim said...

Cotton Mather described it as a reward (from his "A Father's Resolutions"):

"I will single out some Scriptural sentences of the greatest importance; and some also that have special antidotes in them against the common errors and vices of children. They shall quickly get those golden sayings by heart, and be rewarded with silver or gold, or some good thing, when they do it."