The CRCNA is a Reformed Church, and thus we hold to the historic Three Forms of Unity, the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Canons of Dort. In the past, our denomination's connections to these guiding documents was extremely evident. Catechism preaching was at one time an expectation, in at least one of the two Sunday services. Youth came to church mid-week to be taught the catechism. Many of our members, in their homes, regularly read and discussed questions and answers from the catechism around their dinner tables. And, if you were making Profession of Faith in a CRC church, you better know your catechism!
Now, to be sure, this catechetical teaching was never equally provided nor received. Just as with all forms of teaching, the confessions can be taught in a tedious, boring, and lifeless manner, or they can be opened with wonder, passion, and awe. Rote memorization rarely inspires life transformation. If a teacher does not value and treasure the subject, it is unlikely to stir the hearts of their pupils. So, where our confessions were seen as a chore and duty, their communication at times fostered a negative attitude or response over the years or generations. But, this was not the fault of the documents, but rather a by-product of how they were at times being communicated.
Of course, today our world has changed. A family gathering around the dinner table is rare in many places, due to our hectic lives. Also, those that did not receive a passion and love for our confessions can not easily pass that on in their own homes. While catechism classes are still mid week in a few churches, more often they are part of the Sunday School program, if they are taught at all. Now personally, I have heard testimony about the impact of, and love for the evening service from congregations in my Classis (Zeeland). Yet, even in my Classis, it is only about 60% of our congregations that regularly worship twice on the Lord's Day (and I have heard of other Classes where it is well under a quarter of their churches that have two services). Times have changed, so if our denomination is going to re-engage and reconnect with our confessions, we are likely going to need to explore and leverage new means to do so, or at least to start the ball rolling.
One of those newer technologies, that is widely accessible, is the podcast. So when some pastor friends and I started wondering about how we could re-engage our confessions, in an encouraging, applicable, and accessible manner, the idea of a new podcast was born! My friend Rev. Tyler Wagenmaker and myself ran it past our Council's (Beaverdam CRC and Coopersville CRC), and both were on board with supporting and overseeing the project. It took a few months to work out a name and other logistical and technological details, but as of December 2023, it has now been launched! We are calling it the Three Forms Podcast!
In Episode 0, we gave a brief autobiographical introduction to ourselves, and spoke of our introductions to and familiarity with the confessions. But Episode 1 really gives you a feel of what we are aiming for. In that podcast, we covered Lord's Day 1, (questions and answers 1 and 2) from our Heidelberg Catechism! Going forward, we plan, Lord willing, to release a 30-ish minute podcast every Tuesday, until we have completed the journey through all Three of our Forms of Unity!
So, check out what we are doing, and if you find it beneficial, feel free to Follow/Subscribe, and share it with your friends and congregation!
Three Forms Podcast can be found on:
and on other podcast platforms.