Catechism at Coopersville (Mich.) Christian Reformed Church isn’t a class for bored teenagers or shy middle-schoolers but an exuberant reciting of Reformed doctrine with lively children ages 3 to 6. Pastor Lloyd Hemstreet leads Peanut Catechism, a class running select Friday mornings through the summer, now in its second season.
A recent baby boom has driven this need within the church of just over 100 members. In the first seven months of Hemstreet’s ministry at Coopersville CRC, eight babies were born to the modest congregation. At the time, there were few to none in the grade school to high school bracket, but there were a number of families with young children. A moms’ group began meeting on Friday mornings and the catechism class for preschoolers sprouted from that.
Hemstreet uses material from First Catechism by Great Commission Publications as well as the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The young students’ progress is marked with stickers and cards declaring “Nailed it!”—a phrase borrowed from an enthusiastic participant who happily shouted it whenever she got an answer correct. Hemstreet gives each child an opportunity to share their understanding of catechism during snack time. He places a sticker on the Nailed It cards for every appropriate answer.
Last year's Peanut Catechism included 12 kids, all from within the congregation or grandchildren of church members. “It is primarily an attempt to keep our baptismal vows and train little ones to know the truths of God's Word,” said Hemstreet.