Thursday, March 16, 2017

CONFIRMATION: A New Idea for Old Problems

I would like to propose a new confirmation program and I want to be the one to write the curriculum because those who usually create these things in the LCMS (not sure about other Lutheran denominations) do not do a great job of creating dynamic and meaningful curricula. I'm tired of not stepping on toes, so I'm just putting it out there. I also believe that we do not do an excellent job in educating people of all ages, but that's another issue.

Right now I'm focusing on the problem of confirmation. I won't dig into the issues at this time, but here are a few in a nutshell:

  • Many parents aren't fulfilling their responsibility of training in the home.
  • Parents aren't trained or prepared to teach confirmation.
  • Pastors are not trained how to teach (middle school students or parents)

I propose the following programatic change to address these issues:

  • Parents take a pre-confirmation class going over Luther's Small Catechism and how to teach the faith at home.
  • Daily discussion questions based on the questions in the catechism are sent home every week. 
  • Pastor (who has been trained to teach students that age) teaches 2 year JUNIOR confirmation class as a kick-start to the program. 
  • Pastor and parents meet 4 times a year to discuss how things are going at home, refresh the importance of discussion, life habits, etc.
  • Both parents and students have journals/notebooks to briefly reflect on the topic each week, jot down questions, reflect on highs/lows, etc.
If I really had my way there would be a SENIOR CONFIRMATION the senior year of high school. Each year in high school students should have to complete a benchmark project that makes them think about their faith more deeply, after which they will create a final presentation. Each presentation should answer the questions: What do I believe? Why do I believe it? At the beginning of each year they will study a particular part of the Bible for Sunday Bible study (or if there is a Weds. program) to coincide with a task to be completed such as organizing a church event, a year of specific service inside and outside of the congregation (teach Sunday School all year, visit a nursing home all year, etc.), research the faith journeys of a number of older people in the church to help them see how God works in a life, learn about Lutheran worship and develop a worship service, and prepare a final presentation in an agreed upon format such as an electronic scrapbook, video, slide show, etc. Remember that the point of the final project is to answer the questions: What do I believe? Why do I believe it? Each presentation should include real life examples and scripture. Who would not have a firm foundation after something like this?

Who's willing to try this with me? We'll create the curriculum as we go!!

If you're interested in more thoughts on this, see my previous post: Time for  Paradigm Shift


  1. Laura, your confirmation ideas are remarkably similar to those I proposed in my dissertation. I think this is an example of like minds focusing on "common-sense" reform. Let's chat...

  2. Laura, excellent idea. I like it. It also struck me that including some electronic media behind this would allow for increased interaction. Could an app and website become a central tool, used appropriately and judiciously?

    1. Hey Mark! Actually, I'm working on both of those things. I want to develop a website that pastors can use to get materials, resources, ideas, etc. for teaching confirmation. I'm just not sure how that's going to work yet. It might be a subscription vs. storefront. I'm not sure if they would want to purchase a unit, a whole curriculum, or individual pieces. Also, I discovered that not all kids remember what they learned in confirmation even by the time they graduate high school so I'm in the early stages of developing an online, interactive game similar to one my kids like to play when we get together. I need to make sure it's relelvant and meaningful which means no multiple choice. I want it to be able to be played in a confirmation classroom or in a family setting and encourage discussion, not guessing. It won't be truly valuable unless it inspires deeper thought.

  3. Again, great ideas. I'm imaging a site that pastors could use, but includes subscription side for parents and their kids. Imagine a section just for parents for teaching and reinforcing key teachings and memory verses and storying Scripture passages (and world-wide learning objective). Imagine creating a site that becomes a life-time reference for life, like a living catechism, an interactive site for ages/stages. Imagine students of all ages returning to this site throughout their lives. Small group studies that could be employed. Imagine a catechetical response section to current life issues in the news. Hmmm? Just thinking out loud.

    1. That sounds great, but sadly, above my skill set to create. My big dream right now is just getting the LCMS leadership to admit that something needs to be done regarding how we teach at every level. We need to take our heads out of the sand and equip people (professional and volunteers) and provide better resources.