Catechesis & Confirmation

Youth and adults are formally taught (catechesis) to best appreciate what God has done in their lives with the gift of faith begun at their baptism. This guided ministry gives youth a chance to enrich their understanding and knowledge of our triune God so that they might make it their personal confession. After considerable study, these catechumens confess their faith, dedicate themselves towards greater faith maturity (especially in confessing the truth of the Scriptures), and make a lifelong commitment of faithfulness to the Lord. 

Regular, on-going Catechesis:

Specific Catechesis towards Confirmation:

What is Catechesis?

We gather regularly for instruction in the Word of God, not simply to learn knowledge about God, but that our faith in Jesus Christ might be strengthened, and that we might live by that faith in our lives. We call this kind of teaching “catechesis.” Receiving our Lord’s teaching from the Holy Scriptures is a way of life for us, young and old alike, from the cradle to the grave. Our Lord is with us wherever His Word is faithfully taught and received. Jesus said:

As we learn in the Table of Duties, the Apostle Paul insists upon “doctrine” as one of the most important duties of a bishop (1 Timothy 4:13, 16; 5:17; 2 Timothy 4:2). Doctrine is not naturally known but must be learned. The act of teaching is known in the church as “catechesis” and the knowledge imparted by teaching as “catechism.” The word katechesis means instruction by word of mouth, especially by questioning and answering. It is commonly used for instruction in the elements of religion, especially preparation for initiation into Christianity.

St. Luke indicates that his Gospel was written in part for this purpose: “that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” (Luke 1:4). In Acts 18:25, Apollo is described as “instructed [katechemenos] in the way of the Lord”. St. Paul uses the word twice: “I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach [katecheso] others also” (1 Corinthians 14:19); and “Let him who is taught [ho katechoumenos] the word share in all good things with him who teaches [ [to katechounti]” (Galatians 6:6). Hence the word, with its technical meaning of oral religious instruction, is applied both to the act of instructing and the subject matter of the instruction.

Catechesis is much more comprehensive than mere education and involves the actual doing of things that Christians will continue to do for the rest of their lives: attend Divine Service, listen to preaching, receive the Lord’s Supper, confess their sins, receive absolution, pray, confess their faith, forgive one another, live as husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children, workers of every kind, etc.

What is Confirmation?

Baptized children and youth of the congregation will be confirmed in the Lutheran faith through the Rite of Confirmation after they have met the requirements for first communion and have successfully completed the foundational courses in catechesis: Old Testament Catechesis, New Testament Catechesis, and Lutheran Catechesis (or Didache). They also receive absolution privately before their confirmation.

Adult catechumens who desire to be confirmed as Lutherans and become members of the congregation:

  • Attend and successfully complete Didache (Lutheran Catechesis).
  • Learn by heart the primary texts of the Ten Commandments, Creed, Lord’s Prayer, and sacraments.
  • Confess agreement with us in doctrine and have a desire for the Lord’s Supper.
  • Their confession of faith is examined by the pastor. This is done, if possible, in the presence of their sponsor.
  • They receive absolution privately.

Confirmation is a rite of the Church which declares of a catechumen: “Here is a Christian — he has been baptized, confesses the faith, and is in communion with Christ and His Church.” This rite is usually accompanied by the prayer of the Church and a blessing from the Word of God. Parents and sponsors of a baptized child bear the responsibility of teaching this child God’s Word so that the child’s faith may remain alive and grow (Matt. 28:18-20). In the Lutheran tradition, thorough catechesis in the six chief parts of Christian doctrine typically precedes confirmation

Confirmation is a time-honored church tradition (not given by God’s Word, but useful nonetheless) in which the child baptized as an infant is given the opportunity to confess for himself or herself the faith that he or she was unable to confess as an infant. Faith is not “created” at confirmation, but it is rather confessed for all to hear so that the church can join and rejoice in this public confession, which has its roots in the faith which God Himself created in Baptism and strengthened and encouraged through regular, on-going catechesis.

See the Christian Cyclopedia (LCMS) for a summary of the history and practice of Confirmation: http://cyclopedia.lcms.org/display.asp?t1=c&word=CONFIRMATION

What is First Communion?

Baptized children and youth of the congregation will be admitted to the Lord’s Supper through the Rite of First Communion after:

  • They have learned by heart the six chief parts of the Catechism and their explanations,
  • Have a desire to receive the Lord’s Supper,
  • Their parents believe they are ready to receive the Sacrament,
  • Their pastor examines their confession of faith in the presence of their parents and/or sponsors,
  • They receive absolution privately.

The Rite of First Communion is offered at various times in the year when a child is ready to receive the Sacrament for the first time.

For more information:

Holy Communion and First Communion in the Lutheran Church

The content and meaning of the Rite of First Communion

Rite of Examination and Absolution before First Communion