Confirming the Faith: "Christians are People Who..."
If you do an in-depth study of the Bible, you will not find “confirmation” as an educational program in the sacred text. So, why do we do it? As Christians, we are followers of Jesus; we are His disciples. And as disciples, His students, we are people who are learning what it means to be a baptized child of God. This 3-year spiritual formation process may be the most intentional and specialized spiritual training Christians ever receive.
Another way to look at this training comes from Philippians 3:20, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” and like people becoming new citizens to a country (like the United States of America) they are expected to know certain things. Thinks like history, attitudes, behaviors, culture norms, even knowing certain songs. This is true also for people whose citizenship is of heaven.
As citizens of heaven, now you are beginning a more intensive and intentional catechesis program as you prepare to be received as a confirmed member into the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The word “catechesis” is based on a Greek word that means “to teach.” However, catechesis is about more than teaching facts. Catechesis is a lifelong process of formation in the Christian faith. As we meet together, you are beginning a process that is intended to continue throughout your life. It will, of course, involve new knowledge and information. However, of equal importance, is the fact that this will involve new habits and practices as your life is shaped and formed by God’s Word and the catholic (universal) practices that confess and teach the faith drawn from God’s Word.
To teach and learn the full breadth and depth of the Word of God takes longer than one lifetime here on earth. That being said, there are certain basic teachings that all Christians should know and affirm in their beliefs. And the goal of Confirmation is to address and answer the questions, “What is Christianity all about?” and “What does it mean to be a disciple?” so neophytes (νεόφυτος, 1 Tim 3:6, “a person who is new to a subject, skill, or belief”) can make an informed confession of their faith.
At the end of this confirmation process, neophytes are asked to make their own public confession of what they believe about God, and confirmation classes are meant to help put into words what they believe. Confirmation classes are meant to give neophytes a safe place to doubt, ask questions, gain deeper understanding, and to wrestle with the Christian faith and how it impacts their daily lives.
The biggest change you will see this year is the change in what years catechesis will take place. Pre-confirmation classes begin now in 5th grade, assuming the neophyte is ready. And organized classes will take place during the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade years, with the 8th graders making confirmation of their faith at the end of their 8th grade year.
The 5th grade learning will take place primarily at home, being taught by the parents, with the exception of First Communion classes during the Lenten season. Then 6th and 7th graders will be taught together for two years, covering in depth the Six Chief Parts of Luther’s Small Catechism. The final 8th grade year will meet separately, focusing on different teachings, building upon what was learned the years prior.
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Click here to download the Confirmation Schedule.