I recently had the privilege of attending a series of seminars at Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary on preaching. There was lots of thought-provoking stuff thrown our way. But I wanted to especially share this little tidbit from Dr. Jason Van Vliet. He presented a lecture on “Catechism Preaching: Keeping It Fresh and Relevant.” Under the heading of “Why preach from the Catechism?” he suggested that we think of the relationship between regular Bible-text preaching and catechism preaching in terms of nouns, verbs, and adverbs.
The nouns are the same — if done properly, in both instances our subject material is the Word of God.
The verbs are the same — if done properly, in both instances we are preaching the Word of God.
The adverbs are different — in the first instance we are preaching from a single text of Scripture (in what I would call an expository manner); in the second instance we are preaching catechetically from a broader range of God’s revelation in Scripture.
I think that’s a helpful way to explain it, especially for those who still struggle with the idea of catechism preaching. Still I am becoming increasingly convinced that it is unhelpful to describe the Catechism as our TEXT for the afternoon/evening sermon. That terminology can and often does give the impression that the Catechism has replaced the Bible in the second service. In the service I typically announce it something like this: “This afternoon we’re considering the teachings of the Word of God as summarized and confessed by the church in Lord’s Day x.” But I’m still trying to think of a better, yet still succinct, way of mentioning it in the order of worship in the bulletin. Right now we still have “TEXT:” I know some URCs have “Confessional Reading,” but that’s not really accurate either. If anyone has a good suggestion, I’ll leave the comments open just for this one post.