United in Christ
Lutheran School

Learn By Heart


Learn by Heart: The Religion Curriculum


United in Christ Lutheran School


Learn by Heart, the Religion Curriculum for United in Christ Lutheran School is loosely based on Lutheran Catechesis by Rev. Peter C. Bender.  This curriculum contains three integrated schedules for learning by heart the essentials of the Holy Christian Faith.  Those three schedules are for Luther’s Small Catechism, verses from Holy Scripture, and hymns from Lutheran Service Book (LSB).

Daily chapel with all students (PK-8), is a key component to the success of this curriculum.

The Six Chief Parts of Luther’s Small Catechism will be learned and repeated each year.  The weekly learn by heart catechism section is divided by grade levels (K-2, 3-8), and our school teachers may further divide it as they see fit in their classes and grades.  The catechism is confessed in classroom devotions and chapel each day in the Lutheran School.  The goal is that all young catechumens will be able to confess easily the Six Chief Parts of the catechism by the end of the 6th grade in preparation for Confirmation instruction.

The Bible verses (on a 3 year schedule) that are learned by heart are tied as much as possible to the catechism section also being learned.  They are taken directly from the explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism (ESV version).  Thus the Bible translation that will be used for learn by heart verses, daily chapel readings and for the association congregations’ lectionary readings is the ESV translation for the sake of consistency.  (The ESV is also the translation used in LSB.) The Bible verse will also be reviewed in the school classroom.  These very same Bible verses have been agreed upon by the association pastors as those necessary for Confirmation.  Thus, most Bible verses will be known by the catechumens before their confirmation instruction begins.

The hymns (also learned on a 3 year schedule) are tied to the liturgical calendar of the Church and reflect the corresponding Sunday of the Church Year.  The hymns which we will be learning by heart are taken from the Lutheran Service Book, the hymnal used by the association congregations.  The 1st stanza of the hymn of the week will be sung in chapel each day and reviewed in the school classroom. The hymn of the week will then be sung (usually in its entirety) in worship on the following Sunday in each association congregation, thus tying daily devotions and chapel in the Lutheran School to worship on the Lord’s Day. 

So also, the daily liturgies used in chapel (usually Service of Prayer and Preaching, LSB, page 260 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and Matins, LSB, page 219 on Wednesday with offering) will teach young catechumens portions of the liturgy, which will further tie the students of our Lutheran school to congregational worship.  The advantage of children attending United in Christ Lutheran School and using the Learn by Heart method enables them to participate in worship liturgy and hymnody at a young age.

In addition a select Bible story will be read each day in chapel and reviewed there using questions and answers to assist catechumens in retaining the essentials of the story.  

A small application of the story may be added by the presiding pastor if he so desires. The story, questions, and answers will be reviewed in the school classroom to assist the catechumens in retaining the essentials of the story. 

The Bible stories from the start of the year until the Christmas season are from the Old Testament.  (The historical portions of the Old Testament will be covered in a three year period and thus at least 3 times if a student remains at United in Christ for K through 8th grades.) The Bible stories after Christmas to the end of the school year are from the Gospels. (The Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John will be covered, also in a 3 year period.)  The sequence of Old Testament and Gospel stories is interrupted at Christmas and Easter, where the stories will center on Christ’s birth, death, resurrection and ascension. 

The school will supply a chapel sheet that lists the catechism portion, Bible verse, hymn verse, and daily Bible stories for the week to each student to be used in chapel. 

In addition, all learn by heart material and the daily Bible readings will be posted in the school’s weekly newsletter for parents and students, and if an association congregation so desires, in the congregation’s Sunday bulletin.  This is also done to encourage parents, who do not send their children to United in Christ Lutheran School, to keep the same schedule at home so that their children are adequately prepared for entrance into their home congregation’s Confirmation instruction. 

So also families in the congregation may use the schedule as their own devotional guide with the hope that all in the association congregations will learn and review the same devotional material each week.  Thus the entire association community can harmoniously engage in a devotional life that assists us in faith, worship, and life together. If a copy of Lutheran Service Book is owned, it provides an order for home devotions. 

Note the ease of this curriculum for parents.  All students in the school will be learning the same thing.  Parents will find this easier than having separate schedules for each child in school.  What is done in chapel is repeated in the classroom, and all learn by heart material should be repeated at home.  Much of the learning by the catechumens is accomplished by sheer repetition, making it easier for them and for parents and for teachers. 

By utilizing this curriculum the school supports the way we worship and the way we worship helps shapes the direction of our Lutheran School.  Since LSB includes the Small Catechism, portions may be recited in worship, which will further tie young catechumens of United in Christ Lutheran School to worship.

Confirmation instruction for the 7th and 8th grade classes of United in Christ Lutheran School will be taught concurrently by each association pastor for the catechumens from his congregation.  Students attending United in Christ, who are not members of an association congregation, will attend one of these classes.  Which class non-association students will attend will be determined by prior agreement of the student’s parents, the student’s home pastor (if applicable) and one of the association pastors.  In addition, another class is scheduled for the 5th and 6th grades, also to be taught by the association pastors according to the same procedures. 


The 5th and 6th grade class will examine key Old Testament and New Testament Bible stories (one year O. T. and the next year N. T.) and students will be introduced to the theology gleaned from those stories in anticipation of entering the 7th and 8th grade class. 

The phrase learn by heart is used intentionally throughout this introduction instead of the terms memory or memorize because the daily recitation of catechism, Bible, and the singing of a hymn is to be seen as a devotional exercise (a matter of the heart) instead of an academic exercise (a matter of the mind/memory).  

The goal of any theological text is to lead us to apply it to ourselves and then to drive us to prayer, imploring our gracious God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to visit us with His grace and mercy to rebuke, forgive, guide and save.  Thus the catechism, Bible verses and hymnody are to guide, shape, form and become the language of our devotional life and aid in our prayers.  Since we are to pray without ceasing, the language of our prayer life becomes the language of daily life. That’s the goal of the Learn by Heart Curriculum, not only to get things in our heads, but above all, to get them and keep them in our hearts, that like Mary, the mother of our Lord, we also may treasure up all these things, pondering them in our hearts.