Review: Teaching the Faith at Home

Teaching the Faith at Home: What Does This Mean? How Is This Done?
By David L. Rueter

Something has gone wrong with confirmation in the Lutheran church. Children treat the day of their confirmation as a graduation rite, and parents don’t seem to be helping. What happened? Is it these crazy kids and they just need to deal with it? Is it the parents? Is something wrong with our instruction methods? In this book, David Rueter takes a look at the goals of confirmation and asks if there’s a better way to attain those goals. In the first half of the book, he explains what catechesis is and why it must become a life-long process and not a two-year class. In the second half of the book, he addresses especially parents, walking through the Small Catechism and explaining how parents can teach it well at home through several different ages. In the end, Rueter urges parents to teach their children the faith, be good examples, and use the church to help children dig even deeper into God’s Word.

Short review: Pastors should read this, and then urge parents to read it as well.

Longer review: (more…)

“Jesus is Savage!”

Remember all those pictures of Jesus as a nice man, just being kind and gentle, and hugging kids and stuff like that?”

The eighth-grade boy across from me brightens. “Oh, yeah! Like, all the time!”

His dad nods along, wondering where I’m going with this.

Yeah. Jesus wasn’t like that. He was a man! He loved kids, too, and he did bless them. But he didn’t look nice. He was a carpenter! He had calloused hands. He had muscles! And there was this one time. He came to the Temple. You know, place is supposed to be a place of prayer? Quiet, so you can read the Bible and concentrate? Well, he came in, and it was almost like a farmers’ market. People selling animals. Money changers. And he got so angry he made a whip and used it to chase people out. He flipped tables over! How angry would you have to be to flip a table over?”

Dad looks confused. “What? Really? Where is that?”

John 1. Maybe John 2. Let’s check it out.” (more…)

Abortion and the Eighth Grader

So I got to talk to twenty eighth graders about abortion today.

I’m on the board for a pregnancy counseling center. We do no medical procedures, but we help out in a lot of practical ways. We counsel, provide post-abortion counseling, provide food, diapers, clothes… in short, we support the living of the mom and baby.

A pastor from a neighboring town asked me if I’d be willing to come in and talk about beginning-of-life issues to his confirmation class. I agreed and asked for some specific information, specifically: How much knowledge could I assume, and how much I could really talk to them. I mean, this is an incredibly painful issue, and some parents might scream that their precious innocent widdle baby was getting a dose of reality.

“They’re pretty sheltered. Show them what real life is like.”

All right then! (more…)

Confirmation Momzilla


I expect that from my kids, or perhaps some grade-school students. I do not expect it from a person a few years older than me. I certainly don’t expect it on a Sunday morning with tears in her eyes because this is the way it must be.

My parents were so laid back. They loved me dearly, and I know it. However, I rarely saw them get worked up about a whole lot. They were very even keel.

This blessing left me unprepared for Momzilla: Mother of the Confirmand.

Seriously, I fear for this girl’s wedding and what her mom may do to it.

It started about a month ago, when mom-in-question found out I was not planning on pursuing robes. I was looking for something to cut costs. We had borrowed robes last year from another church in town, because both confirmands attended that church’s school. This year, only one out of three confirmands attended that school, so it seemed not as “nice” to ask to borrow. Looking at the history of the church, I see that before me robes were used almost as often as they weren’t, so it’s not a long-standing tradition one way or another.

Except for this mom. We must use robes, because it is her daughter’s wedding day to Christ and her son wore a robe and her dress is not appropriate unless it’s under a robe and it symbolizes the righteousness Christ gives her and and and…

With tears.

And saying confirmation wasn’t worth it unless the robe was there (daughter has option of being confirmed at her school, which is within our fellowship).

And being dramatic with other congregation members.

I should note: This particular person does not handle stress well. (more…)

Be Dangerous.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.


Be dangerous.

  1. You are invading hostile territory.
  2. Trust your general.


Grace, mercy, and peace to you, dear people of God, and especially today to you, Zach and Demitri.

Today is a big day. Today, you become dangerous. Today, you are declaring war. You have spent years learning about your weapon, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. You have learned all about it. You’re not experts yet, but you’ve got the basics. Today you’re getting out of boot camp and joining the war effort. You chose as your class verse Psalm 23:4. It says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” And that is your rallying cry as you move to the battlefront. Today, I tell you: Be dangerous! To do that, recognize that you are invading hostile territory. Also, trust your general.

First, you’re invading hostile territory. You’ve been stationed in the valley of the shadow of death. You’ve been stationed at a dangerous, dangerous place. No one escapes unscathed. Death casts a long shadow. It is very, very cold, and there is no one who can hide from it. You’re surrounded by dying people. Unless Jesus comes back first, every person you know will die. You will see your friends die – unless you die first. You will see them in a coffin. You will see your parents in their coffins. You will visit the graves of your brothers and sisters. And you will witness all this, unless death visits you first. You battle in a place where death casts a long shadow. You are soldiers, fighting until the end. And you will see your fellow soldiers taken off the field of battle.

You will see more things than just death. You’ll see everything leading up to death. You need to recognize what a terrible world we live in. It’s so tainted with sin, every single thing we humans touch dies. Love dies. Friendships die. (more…)

I’m not an evangelist.

Yep. That's a reaction I've had!

On the road to becoming a pastor, seminary students are given a few assessments. In that amount of time, they usually get a good feel for where their talents lie. And one thing became apparent in both for me: I’m not an evangelist. I don’t have a fire to get out there and share Jesus with others. Frankly, it’s scary!

And yet… God laughs. Yesterday, by God’s grace alone, five adults stood in front of church. I was blessed to confirm them and welcome them into communicant fellowship. God had used me to welcome them to thirteen sessions to look more closely at what the Bible teaches. (Incidentally, I’ve avoided calling it a class or a study, as those words can often have negative connotations.) And… the Word works. That’s all there is to it: The Word works. The Holy Spirit used his Word to turn hearts and convince souls that Jesus died for them. That in baptism they were born again. That in the Holy Supper they will get to taste and see that the Lord is good! (more…)

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. (more…)