A Note to Parents and Teachers

We Flourish as Green Olive Trees
in the House of the Lord

Please send your questions to judy@sundayschoollessons.com

The Holy Bible (currently we use the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) or the Contemporary English Version (CEV))

Prayers for Young Christians, by Barbara DeGrote-Sorensen and Roland Seboldt, Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis, MN, 1990

A Study of Luther's Small Catechism, by Todd Nichols, Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis, MN, 1991

What Every Lutheran Should Know About Confirmation, Channing L Bete, South Deerfield, MA, 1989

For an adult class, I would add:

Living Roots: A Study of the Augsburg Confession, by Mary B. Havens, Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis, MN, 1994

Confirmation instruction is a wonderful time when parents, teachers, and pastors share their adult faith with people who are beginning their lifelong adult relationship with God. Martin Luther's intent was that the Catechism be taught to children by their parents in the home. In later times, we have added formal classes in the church as well.

Confirmands may be teenagers - many congregations begin confirmation instruction in seventh or eighth grade - or adults who are new to the faith.

In either situation, the minds of the confirmands are open to exploring the nature of God and his overwhelming love for us, and the students are full of questions.

These fourteen lessons are grouped around the elements of Martin Luther's Small Catechism. Please plan your own schedule for the lessons (one lesson may take two or more weeks to complete). Your class may be more comfortable meeting every other week - or twice a week - depending on the time and energy of the confirmands. Be sure to allow enough thinking and questioning time.

There is no need to begin at the beginning of the Catechism proper. I would begin the lessons with an overview of baptism, beginning the baptism scrapbook very early, and end the lessons with the formal lesson on baptism, where we begin our most difficult thinking and writing, as we write our own statements of faith and where we design our most complex piece of art, the artist's book.

The art projects are important for the kinesthetic learners - they seem to retain information best when they can translate it through hands-on experience.

The writing assignments will show you the insights the confirmands are gaining and the progress they are making on their faith journeys. Choose a class historian to keep a record of writing samples and photographs. Document service projects and field trips to leave a record in the congregation. Make sure the church keeps a copy of each statement of faith.

Our texts for this class are Prayers for Young Christians and A Study of Luther's Small Catechism. Our primary translation of the Bible is the New Revised Standard Version. The language of the New International Version is often simpler than other translations, and the Contemporary English Version concentrates on the themes of the stories. For the poetry, I prefer the King James Version. It is often useful in class to read the Bible study from two or more translations; contrasting the translations can provide insights, and the class will begin to appreciate the difficulties of translating God's word into accessible language.

Send a copy of What Every Lutheran Should Know About Confirmation to the family of each confirmand.

Try to include some of the field trips (including them all may be overwhelming), and please ask your pastor to guide the field trip through the church proper. If there are members in your congregation to teach them, you may also add lessons on the history of the church and on the music of the church.

Service projects are essential. Not only do we explore the depths of love and compassion God has for us during this time, but we also look at our own thankful responses to his goodness, as we learn to lead lives of gratitude.

Confirmation instruction is also a time to look at the long versions of the Old Testament stories - we tend to teach pieces of them or story highlights in Sunday school. The lives of Adam, Moses, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph are fascinating in their entirety.

We teach prayer in confirmation instruction as well, as we begin with the Prayer for New Beginnings from the Lutheran Book of Worship. We continue with the Prayers for Young Christians throughout the classes, developing our adult prayer relationships with God. The field trip through the labyrinth can add special depth to our understanding of prayer.

Confirmation instruction is also a good time to examine our prejudices, as we sing Breathe Deep by Terry Taylor (collected in Songs by Yohann Anderson), reaffirming our belief that God welcomes everyone to his table.

If you are teaching adult confirmands, you might want to add a study of the Augsburg Confession. Living Roots: A Study of the Augsburg Confession by Mary B. Havens is an excellent introduction to this core statement of Lutheran belief.

When ingenuity, wisdom, and courage fail, reread Psalm 52 and try to keep a straight face. We who undertake this magnificent adventure of teaching are truly green olive trees in the House of the Lord.

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