Confirmation Program Survey Results
Confirmation classes are an important opportunity for biblical and theological instruction for junior high (typically junior high) age students in our church family. But if you compared the teaching strategies in our churches, you would find a variety of approaches. And if I could speculate as to why there is such variety, I would attribute the different approaches, because of either church-specific logistics, or because the chosen approach fits best with that church’s pastor’s objectives and teaching strategy, or because a church has embraced one particular curriculum.
For me, I began helping to teach confirmation classes over 20 years ago, but it didn’t become a primary role for me until 15 years ago when I began serving as a pastor. When I began helping with the confirmation program at Community of Joy CLB in Eagan, my pastor was Bruce Stumbo and he used “Confirm It” (which he was writing at that time). As we served in Marysville, Washington, I embraced the syllabus that Brad Hoganson used. In the next two churches that I served, I would summarize that my approach was a blend of Brad’s syllabus and Bruce’s “Confirm It”. In that model, I found my teaching style to be more a series of questions from me, geared to hear what our students knew and believed, followed by applicable teaching as needed. That changed as I served at Triumph in Fargo/Moorhead and I as embraced their teaching schedule, small group model and their course objectives. In my current role, I lead our high school youth group, with the other pastor leading our confirmation classes. On occasion we swap roles and when we do, I teach like I did at Triumph while trying to be as interactive as I observed Bruce 20 plus years ago.
For the purposes of this survey, my aim was to discover how other pastors organize and lead their classes and to then share those results with a hope that any pastor who might be seeking to find some new ideas, might glean some new ideas from these findings.
In the rest of this report, I will do my best to share the statistics from this survey and any additional feedback that was given.
Before we advance, I’d like to say “thank you” to the thirty churches and pastors who completed this. I hope that these results represent a broad cross section of our churches.
The survey asked the following ten questions:
- What do you use in addition to the Bible and Luther’s Small Catechism for your confirmation textbook and curriculum?
- Which describes when your class meets best?
- Do you use small group as a part of your confirmation program?
- How many sermon notes do you require?
- How many passages do you ask students to memorize per year?
- What percentage of your students attend church regularly?
- How many years is your program?
- How do you rotate through material?
- What else can you tell us that is helpful in knowing more about your church’s approach to teaching confirmation?
- How many students are in your confirmation program?
1.The five additional comments for this question were:
- My father and I developed our own stuff
- Confirm IT plus my own stuff
- Our Pastors write our confirmation lessons.
- I write my own lesson plans but I also use videos and such from other sources. I did essentially use “Confirm It” as an outline for lesson planning.
- Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. Published by Cross
2.The nine additional comments were:
- Mutually agreed upon time
- Monday night at 6:30 pm
- Times vary from year to year. This year we have no Confirmation class.
- Wednesday nights along with our other children’s programming
- It meets at the same time as our Middle School youth group
- It meets the same time as our middle school youth group. It’s a combined program.
- Middle School Youth Group on Wednesday Nights is also Confirmation. We’ve combined the two and have seen a lot of growth because of it.
- It does meet at the same time as HS youth group, but is integrated into our MS youth group
- Wednesday evenings
The following statements represent the “other” comments:
- We have a separate youth night.
- Our group is small, 8-15 students
- No small groups as of yet, but a one-on-one mentoring program will begin soon, tying into youth, confirmation, and other areas of church life
- Confirmation class is a small group (3 students total)
- Every week, but the classes at our church have never been bigger than a small group, so … I would employ that model if they were.
- Our only pieces are the Confirmation class time and a mentor program.
- We do small group check-ins on teaching nights and then try for about every other week to be a small group discussion night.
Please note that two respondents named that their program is 1-year long.
In addition, the following comments were made:
- Our program is one year long
- I take one class through 2 years, then begin a new class with a new group (so far anyways)
- As needed, maybe once every third year
- We have three years of teaching that rotates each year
- We repeat the lessons throughout three years of middle school.
- We have now created a 3 year cycle
- We alternate as mentioned above, but we have year 1 (10 Commandments), year 2 (Apostles’ Creed), and year 3 (Lord’s Prayer & Sacraments)
- We do a three year rotation.
The following comments were given to this question:
Note – (I tried not to alter the formatting/verbiage of the respondent too much, but on a few occasions I made grammatical changes while keeping each respondent’s answers in each of the following sections as best as possible)
- This year I am including adults in confirmation class. They are learning while investing in confirmands. Could not be more blessed.
- Besides the catechism, I emphasize a clear distinction between law and gospel, and theology of glory vs cross.
- It would be nice to get updated material to work with. We meet from 9:15 – 10:15 Sunday mornings.
- We teach the standard Confirmation material from the Biblical narrative. The focus is more on Scripture than The Explanation to Luther’s Small Catechism.
- I’ve found much of this year’s class shaped by questions from the students based on the material they’ve read leading up to class. Both of them are new converts, baptized over the summer. They, at times, think differently and ask different questions than kids who grew up in church. In past years, though, we’ve also spent good time discussing student questions based on the material. It can be interesting to find a way to bring it back around to the material, but we always find a way!
- 30 minute activity (fun or team building).
- 40 minute lesson.
- 5 minute prayer / wrap up.
- This is our first year of confirmation classes and we are on a learning curve, so I am looking forward to the insights provided by this!
- 9:45 am Sunday morning. We read Allen J. Foss and review the answers they wrote to the questions.
- 6:15-6:30 pm – Weekly Check-in on life, issues, highs, lows, etc.
- 6:30-6:55 pm – Lesson and Catechism Review
- 6:55-7:05 pm – Confirm It Quiz
- 7:05-7:10 pm – Closing Wrap-up and Prayer
- 7:15-7:45 pm – Students help with Wednesday Night children’s programming
- 6:15 – 6:40 Open gym
- 6:40 – 7:00 Mixers
- 7:00 – 7:40 Teaching Time
- 7:40 – 8:00 Small Groups
- Confirmation Lesson is combined with Youth Group. We meet 6:15-7:45 pm on Wednesdays.
- Confirmation Nights: 6:15-6:25
- open gym/free time; 6:30-6:45
- mixers, games, announcements, raffle; 6:45-7:25
- confirmation lesson; 7:30-7:45
- small group time.
- Youth Group nights includes a similar schedule, but different with a 10-15 min. talk and 30-40 mins. for small groups.
- We confirm in September, on Rally Sunday, in part to avoid the impression of a graduation. In memorization we major on Scripture, minor on catechism.
- We meet from 7-8:30 pm with 7-12th graders all together for games, fellowship, and snacks. Then we split for the last 40 minutes into confirmation (Jr. High) and everyone else. I expect the students to have read and prepared ahead of class, so conversations are efficient.
- First year covers about 1 catechism section per week; each week starts with a hand-made quiz on the previous week’s topic; quizzes are open (hand-written) notes, open bible, and closed-catechism-books. About once per month, some sort of activity is included for about a quarter of the hour-long class. The second year is a walk-through of the Bible (e.g. The Bible Project videos), practical discussion of current issues in the students’ lives, and sermon notes. Coursework is tracked for attendance, participation, quizzes, and catechism/sermon notes. The confirmation ceremony is conducted according to the Ministerial Acts, focusing less on their memorization and more on a short speech prepared by each confirmand and coached by the parents and pastor.
- The “Confirmation Mentor” is a piece that we have grown to really appreciate. Students are paired with an adult from the congregation and asked to meet 6 times in a year. Class time:
- 10 minutes – welcome and memory work review
- 20 minutes – weekly Bible reading review and discussion
- 30 minutes – Explanation of Small Catechism lesson review and discussion.
- We split the Explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism into two parts right at the doctrine of Justification from the creed. 1st years and 2nd years are both together in the same class, so sometimes the 1st years start at the beginning of the book and sometimes they start half-way through then loop back to the beginning in the first year.
- Since we switched to Wednesday nights, we’ve seen a lot of growth in our program. I currently have 60 students in confirmation out of the 100 middle schoolers that cycle through on any given Wednesday night. Pastor Ed Nugent who is our teaching and preaching pastor is our main teacher for Middle School on Wednesday nights. What we love about it is that even if we have kids there just for youth group (which some are) they are still learning our confirmation content. Middle School Youth Group / Confirmation is all about laying the foundation for their faith.
- We’re in the midst of a pretty major transition and still changing things as we go. We teach Confirmation in MS youth group but leave it optional to families to do the work to pursue confirmation. We require 10 sermon notes each year and use RightNow Media to send online lessons to students for each teaching topic (10-15 each year). In those lessons, they use the catechism and are encouraged to memorize scripture. Our Confirmation program includes attending the first 6-8 weeks of HS youth group their freshman year, and then Confirmation is usually the first Sunday in November. Students complete a project that we put on display for the congregation during a Wednesday night where people can interact with the students. We have had mentors and are considering trying to integrate that into the program again. The goals of our program are (1) to teach students the core teachings of our faith to encourage them to believe and equip them to follow Jesus and (2) to expose them to resources, spiritual practices and rhythms that can help them sustain their faith and continue their growth in Christ beyond Confirmation.
- Parents are becoming less and less dedicated to the historical basis of confirmation. It just doesn’t seem to be that important.
- Concordia SS material in earlier years helps prepare them for confirmation.
- We only have one student and it is my first time teaching it, next class I will probably make my own curriculum using just the catechism and Bible with some other handouts I would make myself. I have been a little let down by the LBs Explanation and the “Confirm It” program as I think the way people engage has changed a lot in the last 20 years and some of the Bible verse choices don’t fit the intended explanation well.
- 1 hour long
- Memorization on a week to week basis is the responsibility of the parents. We combined JR High youth group and confirmation teaching and it has worked well.
- Sample Schedule:
- 7-25-7:30 Game/announcements
- 7:30-8:00 large group teaching
- 8:00-8:30 small groups
- Every 2 weeks we do some sort of large group game after small groups