Confirmation that Doesn’t Work

Doesn't it just look so... formal?

I have the privilege of taking several sixth through eighth graders the basics of the Christian faith. We call this process confirmation or catechism class. It’s a blast; nearly every one of them chooses to be there. Their parents did not force them to come; in fact, only one has even one parent who’s a member of any church. These kids have met Jesus. The Holy Spirit created faith in their hearts. Now, they want to know more about Jesus!

And here comes the problem. I want to teach them. There’s a formalized curriculum for such teaching within our church body. I started with that. And… it’s failing.

The curriculum assumes that the students have gone through Sunday school and likely years of Christian dayschool. It assumes that the students know “basic” Bible stories. It assumes that the students have the skills to look up multiple Bible references quickly to get through, on average, nine references in a class period.

These kids don’t have that background. Last week I had to tell the story of David and Goliath… because only one of them had even heard of the story.

Now, the curriculum appears fine if you’ve got a traditional Lutheran grade school setting. My setting ain’t that. Which means… time to find something new. A different way to teach God’s timeless truths to young people. And at least for the moment it may mean I have to wing it. Here’s the current plan:

I’m going to follow the outline provided in the current curriculum. So we’ll cover the same main points of each lesson. For instance, this Thursday we’ll be covering what the 2nd Commandment says not to do (and the week after what it does say to do). But rather than look up… let’s see here… eleven Bible verses that illustrate the point, we’re going to look up one Bible story and read it together. And we’ll talk about it. What does God want in the story? How did the people fail to do that? What does that mean for us?

Yes, it’s basically Sunday School. We’ll go deeper (I hope!) than a typical grade school Sunday School lesson. But I’ve noticed… the kids love stories. They listen to that. They “stick” better. So why not use that?

This is obviously going to take some time and refining. I have a lot more pondering to do on the subject, and if you’ve faced similar problems, feel free to share. I’d like to not reinvent the wheel!

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6 comments

  1. Many people learn best in a story format–not just in your stories–think parables–what was the definition–an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. this may give a chance not only to cover them with the kids, but to write some of your own!

    Become a story teller!

    1. Cool way of looking at it! You once told
      me that you could add details to the story that didn’t change the meaning. Like the snake in the garden could have been a green snake. Doesn’t change the meaning but makes it more interesting. Now you use that as your tool with your confirmands. It’s not wrong, it’s just creative. You have to let your creative juices flow. Like I’ve been hearing. 😀

      1. The catch is knowing how far to go — especially when you’re first teaching something! I’ve encountered people that insist that a certain detail is biblical when it’s not. I don’t want to be guilty of something like that!

    2. The Catechism with Explanation includes sections that have biblical narratives — I’ll start there! God’s Word will always be more powerful than anything I can come up with. We’ve been doing stories throughout — now we’ll just be doing it as the main thing!

  2. I have the same problem with my catechism class. I have 5 kids whose parents are all members of the church, whether they actually come regularly is a different story. However 4 out of 5 don’t have much knowledge of Bible history. I ask about a story and all I get is blank stares until I start telling it then it might become familiar.
    So what I have done is taking the time when a point is made in the context of a story, we read all of it or most of it so they can get “the rest of the story”. I have often thought about trying what you are doing, but just not sure how to do it yet.
    I recall my vicar year complaining to my bishop the very same thing. Our curriculum in the synod is set up for the ideal situation of Christian Day School, not public school or people who don’t know the Bible well. God bless your teaching of God’s truths to your kids.

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