Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Myths about Confirmation

Pastor Borghardt (of Bloghardt's Reflector) has posted "8 Myths About Confirmation".

I will paste them here, but please visit his site for comments:


Eight Myths about Confirmation


Here are eight false thoughts or statements that I've heard in my short time as a pastor. There are tons more. These are the ones

1. "I have a right to be confirmed." - Confirmation is a church rite, not a right given to all kids when they reach a certain age. Being taught everything our Lord mandated is not easy, it's very difficult. It takes study. It takes commitment. It even takes memorization. They are given to hear the Gospel.

2. "Confirmands today can't memorize." - Yeah, they do. They can. They just don't want to. They memorize passwords, the lyrics to their favorite songs, facts for school, and even phone numbers. The question is not, "Can youth memorize?" but, "Will they?"

3. "The material is boring" - My youth never cease to amaze me. This year, I decided to cut them some slack on their memory work. They work so hard and they were getting behind. So, trying to be a good guy (which is my sinful flesh), I decreased some of their work. Initially they rejoiced, then they showed up the next week having memorized more than I asked them to do, AND excitedly asked for the next section early.

Imagine that! They love to hear and read and memorize more and more about what Jesus did for them on the Cross and delivers to them in the Lord's Supper. Faith desires more and more gifts.

4. "Don't overload the kids, just give them the basics." - The way of faith is the way of wanting always more. There is never enough, never a limit, never a point in which the confirmands should sit back and say, "That's it, I've now learned all I need to know."

The more their pastors put into them, the more they learn. It's a crazy idea, but it's true. As pastors we are mandated to teach everything that the Lord has commanded. Why not do that while we have time?

5. "We should confirm kids who aren't coming to church because they might start again afterwards." - If they aren't coming to church now, they won't come to church after confirmation. Part of confirmation is learning about the Third Commandment.

6. "We must confirm at " - If Dr. Luther can speak with great certainty about how seven-year olds can know what the Church is, why not confirm earlier? If the Lord's Supper truly does deliver eternal life and salvation to our kids, why do we wait so long to deliver it to them?

7. "Parental participation is optional." - Oh no, no, no. Confirmation is not like having your oil changed, where you just drop off your car and let the mechanics do the work. Parents cannot simply drop their kids off to church and expect Pastor to do everything. It is given to each parent to teach their kids the faith. Parent participation is required.

Last class, one of my kids showed up sick. His mom caught me before class and explained his attendance this way, "He was feeling sick, Pastor, but I told him to pop a few Tums and buck up and go – this is confirmation." What a confession! In confirmation the Faith is taught to her son. She didn't want her son missing anything.

8. "No visitors in confirmation classes." - Why? I let my high school sit in class and listen. Why should confirmation stop with confirmation? Why not more give us more! Parents can come too!

2 comments:

Jim Roemke said...

Tom,
Great post! I think teaching confirmation a little earlier might be a great blessing. Also, I don't think it can be overstated how important parents are in the process.

I struggle with my students mainly because their parents are not involved and don't care to get involved. Church is not a priority for the family, so why waste time confirming the kids?
The reason they do "waste the time" is because they see it as some magical ceremony that HAS to be done.

solarblogger said...

Tom,

Excellent. And this cannot be said often enough.

I especially agree with your response to the idea that "Confirmands today can't memorize." I would take it further. Catechesis is where they learn to memorize, an ability they take back with them into other areas of life. I have seen children end up being better students after they started learning the catechism, because before that point, they had never had the individual adult attention that led them through how to learn and retain. So often, when a public school even bothers to make kids memorize material (and good ones still do), they do next to nothing to tell the kids how to study the material effectively.

This is all, of course, a secondary reason to continue catechesis. But for the kind of person who would say that "Confirmands today can't memorize" and leave it there, it might be convincing.