Confirmation Ministry for our intermediate and middle school youth is held on Tuesday evenings beginning October 10th and continuing through May. The Pastor and a lay assistant, assisted by parent guides, lead this exciting interactive and high energy program. It is open for children and youth from fifth through eighth grades.
The program curriculum revolves around a three year period including studies on the Bible, both Old and New Testaments; Prayer and the Lord's Prayer; The Ten Commandments; the Creed; and the Sacraments. Many skits, praise music and special projects enhance this program. After three years the youth reaffirm their baptismal vows in the celebrative rite of Confirmation. This formal occasion is highlighted by the white robed confirmands and concludes with a gala reception.
A brief history of confirmation
In recent years, “confirmation” in the Lutheran Church has been reconsidered because it has grown to be something that it was never intended to be. The many “traditions” of Lutheran confirmation such as gowns, flowers, parties, and questioning before elders all emerged in the last two hundred years or so. Confirmation became the “rite of passage” for Lutheran fourteen year-olds. It was the most important moment of their young faith life with the emphasis placed on their confirmation vow. Sadly, a “graduation” mentality arose and many newly confirmed members drifted 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.
This is not to say there was no merit in Lutheran confirmation all those years. Indeed, many children, including our own members, were taught the faith in Jesus in their confirmation instruction. However, with every church practice or tradition there comes a time for reconsideration and possible renewal.
In his understanding of “confirmation” Martin Luther placed the emphasis on the catechesis, that is, the teaching of the faith, in order to prepare children for coming to the Sacrament of the Altar. He was interested in discipling the children. This is the intent of his Small Catechism.
Confirmation is a lifelong process of maturing in the Christian faith. This process begins at baptism and continues until a person is called to be with God in heaven. Confirmation includes a public ceremony in which baptized youth receive a blessing and publicly affirm the vows made at their baptism.
The Purpose of confirmation is to help confirmands:
The Attainment of Knowledge
- †Personally confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and take personal ownership in declaring, by the power of the Holy Spirit, their own allegiance to Christ;
- †Eagerly explore the awesomeness of God and the mysteries of faith;
- †Identify themselves as members, as a unique and special part of the body of Christ, as Lutheran and members of a local congregation.
- †Regularly participate in public worship and the reception of holy communion, engage in personal and group Bible study and its application to life, strive to lead God-pleasing lives and offer services to God by serving others;
- †Celebrate the relationships that they have with God as their personal God who loves them graciously, their pastor and other confirmation staff people, their peers participating in the confirmation process, their family and other members of their congregation.
While growing in knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and the application of their truth are lifelong tasks, the church can, during the confirmation years, help its young people:
The Acquisition of Skills
- †Solidify their understanding of the biblical narrative and its themes of salvation by grace through faith, the calling of the people of God, the life of Christ and the culmination of history in the end times;
- †Attain a basic knowledge of the Six Chief Parts of Luther's Small Catechism;
- †Become grounded in Scriptural teaching though the memorization of key biblical texts, Luther's Small Catechism, hymns and prayers; and
- †Grow in knowledge of the unique history of the Lutheran reformation and of the Lutheran Church in North America.
Our Lord commands obedience to his will by all of the faithful. The church in its catechesis of young people can teach basic skills of discipleship and spiritual discipline. These skills include the beginnings of competence in such areas as:
BIBLE STUDY: learning to read God's Word for understanding in a personal devotional life and in group study with other Christians;
PRAYER: learning to pray for the needs of others, for personal needs and for the mission of the church;
WORSHIP: learning how God blesses his people through the divine worship service and how they can express praise and thanks to the Lord through a variety of worship forms, including the historic liturgy of the church, learning to make profession of faith with fellow believers, to listen to the exposition of God's Word and to comprehend and apply it to daily living;
WITNESS: learning to express the Gospel of Christ in a winsome and meaningful way and to share what God in Christ has done for them;
SERVICE: learning to recognize the needs and hurts of those in the world around them and to be a part of helping, healing service,
COMMUNITY: learning to relate to other Christians as students, friends, caregivers and teachers.
FAMILY LIVING: learning to be a representative of Christ in the roles of youth, sibling and possible future spouse; and
LEADERSHIP: learning to use their God-given gifts and abilities in a manner that strengthens the mission outreach of the church.
The Development of Attitudes
During the developmental years of adolescence, attitudes are shaped that greatly influence a young Christian's life in the church for years to come. Through the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit creates faith that results in a love for God and neighbor. The church, through its Spirit-led Word and Sacrament catechesis, can assist in the development of the attitudes that maturing disciples of Jesus Christ will carry with them throughout their lives. These attitudes include:
CATECHESIS - All that the church does in the total education process from the baptismal font to the grave. Confirmation is one piece of that process, involving a relationship between a catechist and a catechumen around Holy Scripture and the catechism resulting in faith formation.
- †A vision for the church as the Lord's chosen bearer of the message of salvation in Jesus Christ;
- †Respect for the pastoral office and for their own pastor(s);
- †Respect for parents and other family members, also for the members of the whole family of God;
- †Concern for those who are lost in their sins without the knowledge of the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ;
- †Compassion for the needy and hurting;
- †A desire for lifelong growth in the Christian faith.
CATECHISM - A book containing systematic questions and answers to teach basic doctrines. In Lutheran circles the reference is to Luther's Small or Large Catechism. The task force used the term to refer to Luther's Small Catechism and distinguished it from Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation, also referred to by many as "the blue book" or the "synodical catechism." The explanations comprise four-fifths of the "blue book."
COMMUNICANT MEMBERSHIP - Those who have been declared eligible to receive the Lord’s Supper. They may or may not have gone through the rite of confirmation. Communicant membership is distinguished from baptized membership or confirmed membership.
CONFIRMAND - A person preparing for confirmation. Also used to refer to those who have just been confirmed.
CONFIRMATION - A rite of the church in which a confirmand publicly affirms or confesses the faith into which he or she was baptized. This rite follows a period of instruction in the basics of the Christian faith.
CONFIRMATION MINISTRY - Youth confirmation ministry is a nurturing, educational and relational ministry of the congregation to help baptized children identify more fully with the Christian community and participate more fully in its mission, celebrated in a public rite.
CONFIRMED MEMBERSHIP - Those who have gone through the rite of confirmation; distinguished from communicant membership and baptized membership.
God in Christ has done for them.