Augsburg Fortress

By Heart

Conversations with Martin Luther’s Small Catechism

Experience the Small Catechism in a New Way

  • Comprehensive resource on the Small Catechism

    This richly illustrated book will delight and inform adult readers.

  • Videos inspire conversation

    Short, lively, animated videos help participants quickly engage in the session’s topic.

  • The best of Augsburg Fortress

    The reliable Lutheran grounding of Augsburg Fortress combined with creative Sparkhouse curriculum design as well as top-shelf Fortress Press authors enhance the mix..

  • Easy to lead

    Facilitator guide functions as a simple agenda with freedom to adjust based on the interests, questions, and background of group members.

The Three Focuses in By Heart

The entire course is built around three kinds of source material that we see as essential to a meaningful experience of Luther’s Small Catechism.

  • Scripture and Tradition. For example, the Ten Commandments as cited in Exodus 20 or the Apostle’s Creed as we have it from Christian traditions.
  • Luther’s explanations of the scripture or doctrine from Christian traditions.
  • The "backstory" of Luther’s own life and times, the fertile soil of the Reformation itself.

"For You" Focus

The contributions to By Heart address the reader in the second person. This is to keep faith with both the everyday, ground-level language that Luther uses in the explanations and to embody the declarative nature of the gospel which he strove to encode in that language. By adhering to the "for-you-ness" of the gospel in the design of this course we hope to do some justice to Luther’s intentions in the Small Catechism.

"Studying the Small Catechism together will give us a common language with which to talk about faith, engage scripture, and make sense of our lives in the 21st century."
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton

Course contents

Each session in By Heart explores a different section of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.

  • Animate: Faith
  • Animate: Bible
  • Animate: Practices
The Story of the Small Catechism
The Ten Commandments
The Apostles’ Creed
The Lord’s Prayer
The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
The Sacrament of the Altar
Household Prayer
Canon: Mining for the Word
Eric Elnes
History: Parchment to Pixel
Phyllis Tickle
Testaments: One Story, Two Parts
Rachel Held Evans
Gospels: Unexpected Good News
Nadia Bolz-Weber
Genre: Rhythm of the Text
Jose Morales
Interpretation: Scripture Reads Us
Will Willimon
Grace: Love Is the Bottom Line
Jay Bakker
Prayer: Oriented toward God
Brian McLaren
Food: Eating, with Jesus
Sara Miles
Worship: Seeking God's Presence
Mike Slaughter
Sacraments: A Tapestry of Traditions
Phyllis Tickle
Money: The Joy of Sharing
Shane Claiborne
Service: The Needs Right in Front of You
Enuma Okoro
Community: An Unexpected Family
Doug Pagitt

By Heart DVD Sample

This is an example of what you can expect from the videos for each session of the course. Because each chapter in the By Heart book contains more information than any one group can cover in a single meeting, the videos provide a quick and fun way to focus the group’s attention toward the material in the book.

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