Saturday, June 20, 2020

CONFIRMATION: Worship Connections

Confirmation notes, reports, reflection, or whatever they're called at your church can be a challenge. Along with asking students to identify the law/gospel, what the main point of the sermon was, I have seen questions like:

  1. What was the law (shows our sin)? What was the gospel (shows our Savior)?
  2. What was your favorite part of worship today? 
  3. What did your parent(s) find interesting or thought provoking?
  4. How would you change today's service? 
  5. What was the "theme" of the service? 
  6. How is what you heard in the sermon going to change your life? 

I've used some of those questions too. In the law they never ask a witness a question to which they don't know the answer. I have a similar motto for sermon questions. Before you put them on a form, ask yourself how the kids will answer; keeping in mind that they're 13-14 years old. Then look at the answers they're giving and ask yourself if doing this is getting you what you hope for.

My next question is... how are they doing with that? First of all, listening and writing cannot be done at the same time. Listening, reading questions, thinking, and writing is so much harder. Middle schoolers are not taught how to take notes from a lecture. When they get notes at school they come written on a slide or white board and thinking about them is not required: write now, think later.  As for the others:

  • Determining law and gospel can be hard for some adults, much less kids, especially when the pastor keeps talking. Imagine what's going on in their heads, "Was that the law?" Student writes. "Wait a minute, what did he just say?" and the pastor never pauses. Of course, students are not dumb. Many will simply write "we can't do it on our own" for the law; and "Jesus is the anwer" for the gospel. It's not wrong, but it's not what you're hoping.
  • Most students write these reports or notes during the sermon, which means they miss at least some of what the pastor is saying, and/or whatever happens next in the worship service. 
  • Middle school kids are just learning to go deep. They are commonly looking for straight forward answers and love to fill-in blanks. Their brains won't be fully developed for 10 years. Asking them to think deeply about a sermon, pay attention as they finish the service, and turn-in their paper before they leave assures some very short answers. Students who give long answers probably did their report during the rest of the service. 

With many pastors posting their services, or at least their sermons, on social media via video, blog, or podcast, students can go back and listen again at home. However, since confirmation isn't a graded class. and many pastors have trouble holding students accountable, they will usually write whatever comes to mind and hand it in right after worship and it will be accepted.

My suggestion, and what I'm switching to next year, is to stop doing worship or sermon notes or reports and start doing Worship Connections. I'm going to try to connect the readings to each other and the sermon by looking ahead and asking some questions about the readings and the service. Download an example here.

My first one is below. The picture below is difficult to read. It may be easier to download the copy through the link above.

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