Videos from the 2013 BJS Conference… to be updated.


The conference is over, but the instruction continues.  Courtesy of Peter Slayton’s expertise, we have videos from the conference presentations, stand up comedy routine, and sermons of the conference.

The first is the presentation of Pr. Jonathan Fisk on Friday night at the 5th Annual BJS Conference.



The second video is of the excellent stand-up comedy antics of Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller


We gathered in the sanctuary of Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville to pray Evening Prayer together. Pr. Hans Fiene preached a fine sermon in which the Law was preached sternly and the Gospel sweetly. This sermon is a must watch for our regular readers.


Pr. Wolfmueller gave the second presentation at the 2013 BJS Conference.  His presentation was on the topic of coming out of Evangelicalism.  He spoke within the framework of Psalm 119, trying to emphasizing the value and importance of God’s Word in our lives.  He spoke of Evangelicalism’s pendulum between despair and prideful deception – a pendulum that often throws folks off.   Throughout it all, you get a presentation that is more proclamation than presentation.  Take a look:


More videos will be available on our Steadfast Lutherans Youtube page:




Videos from the 2013 BJS Conference… to be updated. — 11 Comments

  1. Thank you for posting this. I am deeply troubled by the catechesis in our synod as well. We are now seeing the terrible fruit of bad catechesis, specifically, not living the faith in the home and passing it to the next generation.

    What is missing? How can Sunday School be improved? Must it be divided by age? What can be done to teach the liturgy and hymns and not encourage ‘temporary Worship and worldly trends? How should we educate our school age children? Homeschool? What about the public school and its agenda? Our church actually has a one room Lutheran school. There are children of different ages in the same room and it works well. Could this be a valuable model for congregations in the future? What can we do to engage the parents? What can we do to fortify the children in a culture that wants to destroy them?
    How can we lead them to live as Lutherans?

    Now as a pastor I see that not only are the children often bored and apathetic, so are their parents. There is time for sports (the children’s and the parents), for endless screen time, for activities and other things… and church may get what is left over (or not even that.)

    Parents often do not have any example for family devotions. We were also intimidated and overwhelmed. I will often print the devotions from Higher Things for them. It is easy, full of Gospel and brief. Mostly, however, I just want to encourage them to start SOMETHING. Bible, Hymns, Psalms, Proverbs, Meal Prayers, Bible on CD, Lutheran Public Radio, Devotional books like “the Lord will Answer,” “Family Altar,” or “the Treasury of Daily Prayer” Fighting for the Faith, or Worldview Everlasting — just pick one and start!

    We have tried several things. Some have worked, some have failed. Actually, to be honest, nothing worked consistently until we gave up TV for lent. Then it only worked for Lent. It was too much of a distraction and time troll for us to be consistent with devotions until it was gone for good. (Not pietists, just addicts.)

    We have found success with Dr. Kenneth Korby’s Family Catechetical Hour, Daily Psalms, a chapter of Proverbs each day, the Treasury of Daily Prayer and just plain old hymn singing and straight Bible reading. (of course not all at the same time.)

    We fear for our children and for what the future will hold. We know it will be hard, but we are trying to give them the treasures we have received, and to trust the Lord to take the seed planted and make it grow. We remember that it is He who has begun this good work in them and will bring it to completion in the day of the Lord.

    Now how do we convince the families in our congregations to take this task seriously?

  2. While I was an evangelical I sent my son to Sunday School and youth group in hopes he would learn about the Christian faith. All he ever learned was he should “except Jesus into his heart.” When we joined the LCMS my oldest son was 13 and ready for confirmation classes. He had learned more in the 1 year of being taught Luther’s Small Catechism than all the years of Sunday School and youth group. Those were more entertainment than learning.

    We go to a small Lutheran Church, so there is no youth activity. The youth group at our former church was on the same night as confirmation class, but started at a later time. We allowed him to continue going to this youth group because it was mostly fun and games.

    My son never complained or fought us about having to go to confirmation class, even thought it was more than a hour of instruction with no entertainment. That was because I think he had the youth group to look forward to afterwords.

    We were sure that he would not receive any contradictory teaching by allowing him to continue with this youth group. The funny thing was none of the kids (his friends) were members of this church.

    My point in sharing all this is in my opinion you can incorporate fun activity for the kids while teaching them the Catechism. It’s not blasphemy.

  3. I was a little troubled by this. If on one hand we stand up and say “Church growth methods are wrong.” The Holy Spirit works when and where he wills. That is the promise that we hear from the Bible. (Isaiah 55:11) Preach the Gospel, administer the sacraments and allow what happens to happen.

    Why then is it different when we deal with kids? Are we not teaching law and Gospel in Catechism class? Is this saying that methods hinder the Holy Spirit?

  4. I think Pastor Fisk is on the correct track in diagnosing some of the learning issues among our youth. I have two homeschool graduate sons. I often tell people, “My sons love learning for the sake of learning, not to get through a class and get a good grade.” Oldest son, now in grad school, complains about students who copy homework answers from answer booklets. Middle son, college sophomore, tends to spend more time and have those intellectual conversations more with international students, especially Asian students, than with American students. Pr. Fisk pointed out how this “school” problem has translated into a confirmation/catechesis issue. It’s a complicated problem. I like Pr. Fisk’s plan of having some (sounded like in high school) classes that covered books of the Bible and weren’t tested.

  5. @Kathy L. M. #7
    “complains about students who copy homework answers from answer booklets”

    As usual, I agree with Kathy L.M. I reluctantly teach 5th and 6th grade catechism at my church. I’d much rather their parents do it. Anyway, I’ve seen the desire to just fill in the answers, particularly from the students who attend public school (the class is 50/50, home school to public school). Early in the course, I stopped assigning work in the workbook for a few reasons. One reason was the public school kids’ goal was to just fill in the right answers. Another was the workbook was full of questions like, “…in your own words.” 11 and 12 year old kids who have yet to memorize the catechism are driven not to the confessional language Lutherans speak, but to their own incomplete and often errant *synthesis* of basic Bible teaching.

    Instead of wasting time with a counter-productive workbook that was a good 2 grades below their ability level, I’ve found that a steady in-class diet of challenging questions and discussion (even at 11/12yo, I force them to defend their position) pays all kinds of dividends: they have a much higher level of understanding than I ever dreamed they would. Now if I could just get them to memorize.

  6. @R.D. #8

    Thanks for the comment and agreement. The really sad part…my oldest son is talking about college undergraduates who copy answers, math and science answers, and don’t care about learning the material. As a TA, when he catches students doing this, he makes them solve problems on the white board in his office. He’s not very popular.

    I use very few workbooks and prefer to spend time discussing issues and developing thoughts and ideas. My goal, for my final student, would be a love for learning and the ability to discuss and write about issues and opinions. What follows from that style of learning is the ability to know and discuss God’s Word.

    I did not grow up Lutheran and have never been in a church where catechism is memorized. Which part of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation is usually memorized? Just the Small Catechism or also the explanations?

  7. @Kathy L. M. #9
    I think the whole copy answers thing is a relatively new phenomenon. I did not see it in my public school days but my wife (a teacher) was seeing it when she got her first teaching job in ’04. A friend of mine is a TA seeing the same stuff and is increasingly frustrated with it. I don’t have any idea, really, so it’s just a hunch: that performance standards associated with no child left behind has encouraged such a practice of regurgitation.

    We memorize all six chief parts of the catechism. Periodically we check the progress of memorization in a few minutes during class, usually with abysmal results (including the PK). I once lectured them about the importance of memorization (yeah, right “old” teacher man). I also told them it is both too late for them and not too late for easy memorization. “It’s too late,” I said, “because you’re already eleven and twelve years old. It is so much easier to memorize at 3! So when you are parents with your own children, remember this: teach your children at a very early age, then they’ll sit here in this class able to recite their memory work.” Then I said, “it’s not too late for you, because it is so much easier to memorize now than when you’re 13 and 14. Ask me how I know!” (I find the children at this age like the paradoxes and even a simple concept as this stimulate their minds). But I can point them to my 3 year old who has most of the commandments and explanations memorized, and both my 2 and 3 year olds who, I kid you not, can recite Ephesians 2 vs 8-10 including the reference (their mother, like you, did not grow up Lutheran but she is now about the best Lutheran mother one could have). They’re *NOT* genius babies, we adults just don’t have a grasp of that which such young children are capable!

    So why memorize the explanations? Is it just regurgitation like filling in the worksheet blanks? (I know you know it’s not). Here’s a recent example from class. We’re studying Baptism. I asked the class for a list of the blessings of baptism. One said we are baptized into Christ, buried with him, and resurrected with him. I looked at the class with a skeptical look as if I did not believe this. I asked, skeptically, “where is this written?” Especially at 11 or 12, they are heavily influenced by the reaction of the teacher. Whether it works or not, I don’t really know as Im no expert, but my desire with that method is to condition them to confess and not fall prey to such tricks of the world. Funny, another student, almost robotically, “Saint Paul writes, Romans Chapter 6…” That is a moment I cherish as a teacher. My class is about learning the objective truth that we are Justified because of Jesus, where we receive the gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation, and that we don’t find this comfort within ourselves (or in our own words) but in God’s Word that we speak back to Him in our daily lives and in the divine service, and in the sacraments we receive connected with the Word. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Memorizing such words (scripture) and correct expositions (small catechism) gives us a ready defense of the “hope that is within us.”

  8. Thanks, R.D. Despite attending the Naval Academy, where we had to memorize a ton of facts and also lots of trash, I am horrible at memorizing. Therefore, I have not required it of my three students, now down to one, although my oldest son insists I made him memorize some of the catechism. As I said, none of our Lutheran churches have required it.

    I now find myself frequently amongst a group of Baptism-like and nondenominational homeschool mothers, who think they know the Bible. I have been consulting, trying to learn some of the catechism explanations, especially verses regarding Baptism. I figure…these ladies think they know the Bible but they read it with the belief they already know what it says…I want to be ready if we ever have the Baptism discussion.

    On a positive note…my two older sons have not turned away from their faith. In fact, one took a copy of the Book of Concord back to college this semester. He called one night wanting to discuss an issue he’d been reading about. Parental involvement, in my opinion, is a biggie.

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