Ed Stetzer Interviews Brian Dembowczyk on Discipleship Tool & Theology Book ‘Cornerstones’

Ed: What is the basic premise of Cornerstones?

Brian: Cornerstones is a pair of books—one for children and the other for parents—that covers the basic doctrines of the faith in a question-and-answer format, like a catechism. Years ago, when I was in seminary, I learned how the early church had used catechisms to train believers in the faith and I decided that I wanted to use this approach with my children.

So I searched for one to use, but the ones I found either had a theological bias, missed topics I wanted to cover, or had questions that were too complex or wording that wasn’t kid-friendly. So I wrote my own. At that time, I think I had about 100 questions.

My wife and I used that homemade resource with our kids for several years and it worked really well. My kids were learning and they seemed to enjoy our times “doing the questions.” As a family, we were having some great conversations about God. I think the question-and-answer format gave them doctrine in bite-sized morsels they could digest.

I was serving in local church ministry, so I crafted a version to share with families in the churches where I served. I also added brief explanations to some of the questions and answers to help these parents understand the big doctrinal ideas they were rubbing shoulders with.

After I started working at LifeWay, I shared this idea with the B&H Publishing team and they not only liked the concept, but they wanted to take it farther. They recognized how important it is to equip parents, so they had the idea of providing a second book for parents—the Parent Guide—with longer explanations for each question and answer. The questions and answers were expanded as well—there are 200 in Cornerstones, divided into eight categories: God, creation, sin, Jesus, salvation, the Bible, discipleship, the church, and last things.

So with all of that said, I would say that Cornerstones is a discipleship tool for parents to use with their children and an approachable systematic theology book for parents.

Ed: How is Cornerstones different from other resources out there that might be similar?

Brian: Cornerstones is distinct in at least three ways. First, it was written specifically with grade school kids in mind. You can certainly use this with preschoolers, but the sweet spot is elementary age kids. I tried to write the questions and answers in a way that connects with these kids. Because there are 200 questions and answers, I didn’t have to provide complex answers attempting to capture different nuances.

The questions and answers are designed to be as simple and straightforward as possible. At the same time, I believe we often don’t give our kids enough credit; we fail to challenge them. They can handle more than we think. So I introduce some essential theological terms and ideas, but try to explain them in a way a kid would understand.

Second, Cornerstones is longer than many other resources out there. That means parents can cover some topics that might not usually be addressed—such as stewardship and generosity—and also drill down deeper in places.

One of my goals in writing Cornerstones was not just to cover what a kid needs to know as a follower of Christ, but also what should be going on in his or her heart. I wanted to talk about love prompting our obedience, for example, to help parents and kids have conversation about how God changes us through the gospel as opposed to the Christian moralism that is so prevalent today.

Third, the Parent Guide, which is over 400 pages long. I’m excited about parents having a tool crafted just for them, to help them understand more deeply the doctrines their kids are learning about. My hope is that the Parent Guide will give parents confidence to have robust, meaningful conversations about God and his ways with their kids as they seek to live out Deuteronomy 6.

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Source: Christianity Today