First Third Conversations

So What’s Wrong with Confirmation?

By Dr. Nancy Going, Director of Distributed Learning Children, Youth and Family Luther Seminary

My second real youth ministry job was in Germany.  My husband and I had just moved there so he could serve as a pastor in a German congregation.  After we got settled in, I really wanted to do youth ministry in some way again….so I got a position as a Katechetin.  Yep.  I was hired just to do confirmation classes.  Which I did in hour-long class after class for 7 hours a week.  Classroom setting.  Tables and chairs.  Luther’s Catechism.

It was in a large suburban German congregation with about 800 confirmands.  Now we have big churches like that here in the states, with huge confirmation programs. But I have a feeling that these confirmands were still a little different.  More than 90% of these students had never been in a church since their baptism.  We spent the first weeks showing them around the church building, --here is the sanctuary, here is the altar, because they were simply clueless.  They were forced to attend worship for the two years.  So the worshipping congregation at this church on any given Sunday was very old ladies, and a couple hundred confirmands.  No parents. And they stuck with the process, because there was a HUGE financial payoff.  What would be the equivalent of thousands of dollars. 

And when they were done, they were done.  Maybe they came back for a wedding, but probably not.  Maybe they had their own children baptized, but fewer are deciding to do that.

Now this is not at all what the Confirmation process is like here, in our American churches.  No.  Well there might be SOME similarities…..And it might be more similar now than it was twenty some years ago…..

That’s why we at Luther Seminary are sponsoring this FirstThird Dialogue called “MONKEY BUSINESS” February 27-29, 2012.  We need to talk.  There might be something wrong with Confirmation.  Join us! 

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