Confirmation in the Lutheran Church is a two or three-year process where seventh, eight and/or ninth graders spend time in conversation about their beliefs of the Old Testament, New Testament and Luther’s Small Catechism.
Confirmation has become the “rite of passage” for Lutheran fourteen year-olds. For many is is the most important moment of their young faith life with the emphasis placed on their confirmation vow. However, at this peak of their faith life many junior high youth consider confirmation their “graduation” from church and many newly confirmed members drift away soon after their vows because they believed they had “completed” their instruction. As a result, Lutheran churches most recently have been trying new and varied approaches to better teach children about Jesus.
In the Confirmation Ministry Task Force Report of the ELCA, Confirmation is defined at
Confirmation ministry is a pastoral and education ministry of the church that helps the baptized through Word and Sacrament to identify more deeply with the Christian community and participate more fully in its mission.
With this in mind the church on 370 had evaluated and reevaluated our confirmation ministry program. We first started our discussion about Confirmation Ministry with scripture we see confirmation as “equipping the saints for the works of ministry…” (Ephesians 4:11) We invite families to engage in a two-year program that enables youth to grow in faith, to ask probing questions and to become active members in the life of the church. In addition to addressing the question of content, “What do we (I) believe?”, we also seek to answer such questions as “What do Christians do?”, “How do Christians live?”, “What does it mean to be called a Christian?”, and “What difference does Jesus Christ make in my (our) life?”
There are five major components in our confirmation ministry
1. The Crucial Role of Parents
Because parents are learning partners with their children, and play a critical role in their child’s faith journey, we therefore:
- Strongly encourage each parent to participate in the faith life of the church
- Encourage parents to discuss daily high’s and low’s with their children
- Invite parents to pray at mealtime and bedtime with their children
- Seek their participation in learner sheets given to the confirmands during the year which are designed for parents and confirmands
- Request that parents attend a mid-year evaluation with their child’s guides
- Ask parents to oversee completion of a sermon outlines each week
- Expect parents to insure that their children arrive on time and prepared for classes with their Bible, folder, small Catechism and pen.
The rest of the confirmation requirements are for the confirmands themselves
- Regularly attend worship
- Complete sermon outlines as they worship
- Involvement in the worship leadership of the church (usher, lector, acolyte, choir member, altar guild)
- Visit different faith communities with the class during the year
3. Devoted to Learning
- Attend Confirmation Preparation time with Pastor (9th grade)
- Participation in confirmation camp during the summer following 7th or 8th grade.
- Study of Luther’s Small Catechism
- Study of key Biblical themes, books and verses, including the following work due on May 1st of each year:
- 7th Grade: Outline the Gospel of Luke (Chapters 1-9)
- 8th Grade: Outline the Gospel of Luke (Chapters 10-24)
- 9th Grade: Develop personal faith project
Events will be planned to help assimilate confirmands into the life of the congregation. These will include such elements as lock-ins, key congregational events, and getting to know other youth through fun, fellowship, and food. The Christian community plays an important role in the formation of its members. For this reason we seek to involve peers, parents, mentors, and guides, as well as the pastor, in the process of confirmation.
Jesus invited his followers to respond to the needs of others in a way that modeled his own behavior. As He said in the Gospel, “In as much as you have done it to the least of these, so you have done it to me.” One basic element of Christian life is that of servanthood. We have been called to mission. Each year we participate in servant events that are designed to help us learn about Christian mission and to participate in that ministry. These events will allow our confirmands to meet people active in Christian mission and support their outreach endeavors with hands-on experience.
- Participate in a minimum of four of the following eight annual servant events: CROP Walk, Volleyball Marathon, Bowl-a-Thon, Vanderkamp Clean-up, Community Dinner, Block Party, Youth Garage Sale, or one that you propose
- Develop a “Pay it forward” activity with members of their 9th grade confirmation class in conjunction with the Pastor.
Since we use three years of material and only have two years of program we have established a “pre-confimation” program. I have been really excited about this program. We have a large number of 5th and 6th graders who are eager to learn about the Bible and learn about their faith in God. So we are using the 5th and 6th grade years to introduce the Old Testament to the group, to have opportunities to learn about the lighter side of church and to have opportunities to ask questions. So far this has been very successful.
As we move forward in our confirmation ministry at the church on 370 we hope to create disciples, to build relationships in and among the group and to enable the youth to see their confirmation not as the end of their time in church but the beginning.