In giving the Great Commission, Jesus does not call us to make converts, nor does he call us to make professional theologians. He calls us to make disciples. Then He plainly tells us the “Who” – all nations – and the “How” – baptize and instruct in the teachings of Christ. This is both a manageable and weighty calling. Basic human experience tells us that most of us are not called to a broad sweeping endeavor in which millions are being saved, but all of us are called to daily faithfulness in stewarding the gifts God has given us.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
If you ever find yourself wondering which portion of the “all nations” God has called you to, the best thing to do is look at what’s right under your nose. Your children. Your spouse. Your parents. Your neighbors. Your colleagues. These people are your unique piece of “all nations.”
Particularly if God has gifted you with children, then they are a primary way God has called you to live out Christ’s great commission in your daily life. As parents, we are our children’s primary teachers in all things – language, manners, healthy choices, safe behaviors, virtue, and especially spiritual direction. It is a most serious and sacred call.
While Jesus’ “how” is straightforward, discerning the practical implementation of the “how” with kids is more muddled. A key component to this task is catechesis – a tradition of educating believers in the basic tenets of their faith through prayer and study of scripture, through a formal catechism, and through liturgy and worship.
One of the most ancient catechetical practices, and one that is particularly suited to young children, is that of memorizing the Creeds.
The formalization of the Creeds dates to the 300s AD. The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds were formulated to help faithful believers internalize the core doctrines of belief. Remember, most Christians did not have bibles and could not read, so the Creeds served as one of the ways for the church to make itself both clear and accessible to its flock. Memorizing the affirming the Creeds was a requirement for anyone who wanted to be baptized and receive communion.
To this day, the Creeds remain some of the most succinct and complete expressions of the Christian faith, and they remain one of the simplest tests of orthodox Christian belief – the Creeds declare what the body of faithful Christians means when they call themselves Christian.
It should come as no surprise then, that the Creeds are an essential part of the disciple-making process for our children. As little sponges, our kids are primed and ready for the blunt memorization for which the Creeds were designed. The Creeds are the original “baby believer” primers for Christian theology. While children may not understand the full text of the Creeds at the time of memorization, these articles of belief provide handholds for future discussions and applications as children grow and deepen their faith.
If you haven’t done so already, I’d encourage you to memorize the Creeds for yourself and start to work on them with your children – there’s no quicker or easier way to grow as a disciple of Christ.
Danielle Hitchen founded Catechesis Books in 2016 in hopes of creating beautiful books to help parents have better faith conversations with their children. To date, she’s published seven books (the Baby Believer Primers!) and loves partnering with parents to share the love of Jesus and the glory of God with their little ones.
A version of this post originally appeared on the Harvest House blog. Republished with permission.