Great Stuff — An Open Letter on Confirmation

Another great article found over on Letitstet:


Dear parents,

confirmationI don’t have children. Maybe this means that my thoughts on this don’t matter. But Iwas a child once, and that counts for something.

So, can we talk about confirmation? And can we talk about why it doesn’t seem to matter to your kids . . . or to you?

I get that it’s one more thing you have to do during the week, that it’s one more place you have to drive your child, that it’s one more book she has to remember to grab before leaving the house, that it’s one more hour you can’t spend cleaning at home.

But it’s a really, really important hour each week.

A life and death kind of hour.

Dads, in that hour, your daughter will learn about holy things, things that have implications for her eternal life. She’ll learn that when other girls pick on her and bully her, when she questions whether anybody likes her, that her Baptism — and the gifts of grace and faith given to her there — will comfort her.

Moms, in that hour, your son will learn that when he doesn’t want to talk to you about something stupid he did, because he’s embarrassed and because you’re his mom, he can talk to his pastor, because he was a young man once too. He’ll learn that our Lord puts commandments and people and His Word in his way to protect him and to care for him.

In that hour, your twins will discover what the Church has always taught even though they’re not even two decades old. They’ll memorize Bible passages that they’ll recall when they’re 80 years old and their memory is fading in and out like a staticky radio station. They’ll learn how to differentiate between what is good and what is evil, what is true and what is false, what we know to be sure and certain about our Lord and what we know to be false about the world.

In that hour, your child will be fed with the very Word of God, taught what a life lived under the cross looks like, and refreshed with a peace that the world simply can’t give.

That’s why confirmation and Sunday School matter, why church matters. It’s why it matters to your daughter. It’s why it ought to matter to you.

You say you just want your child to be happy. But that’s not really true. Or it shouldn’t be. You should want your child to grow in his faith, to be a pious Christian, an upstanding citizen, a respectful young lady, a Christian who bears witness to Christ’s work in him in all that he does and repents when he doesn’t.

So if you’re tired of having one more thing to do during the week, having to drive your child one more place, or remind her one more time to grab her catechism before she leaves the house, or leave one more bathroom uncleaned . . .

Give up soccer. Even if you you went to college on a sports scholarship and you love watching her play.

Give up 4-H. Even if you have cows to show and you want him to learn how to show them.

Give up chess club. Even if you think it’s the most strategic way of thinking your child will ever learn.

Give up quiz bowl. Even if other parents give you the stink eye.

Those things may look shiny on earthly paper, but they pale in comparison to what your child will learn in church, in confirmation.

So tonight, when you are tempted to find a reason not to help your son with his memory work or to tell that your daughter she can fudge her catechism quiz, hold up.

And then dig in to the good stuff with them. Do the hard work. Sit beside them on the couch, and memorize the Bible and the catechism too. Encourage them in their study of God’s Word. Pray with them.

Because, believe it or not, when you show that things  matter to you, they will start to matter to your kids too.

And when they are tempted to be more excited about soccer cleats or showing hogs, point them back to the cross. Remind them that Christ came into this world to redeem them.

And that’s cooler than any quiz bowl trophy.

(Although admittedly that’s not saying much.)

I promise.


A girl who was in confirmation once herself

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

Norm has been involved behind the scenes in many of the "go-to" websites for Lutherans going back many years.


Great Stuff — An Open Letter on Confirmation — 18 Comments

  1. This is indeed great stuff and I’m so glad it was written by a girl! I loved Confirmation Class and this week I still used Luther’s Small Catechism to look up something about the Office of the Keys and Confession. That little book has been so useful through the years. Of all the parts that I memorized over 50 years ago, the one section that I’ve repeatedly used is Dr. Luther’s explanation to the third article-“I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe on the Lord Jesus Christ or come to Him..” What a privilege and honor to be a Lutheran Christian.

    In Christ,

  2. Well, I can tell you what confirmation did to my son. It turned him into Joe Lutheran, old school Grandpa’s church kind of guy. It kind of took me by surprise. He watches Fisk, listens to Wolfmueller, follows Pr. Graff on facebook, discusses doctrine with his baseball, school and scout friends. It is like kids looking for an identity and he seemed to find his in confirmation class. So, thanks, pastors, I think.

  3. @Erich Heidenreich #3

    Well, Erich, perhaps if parents are reading these words,
    they and their children have another chance.
    Most of us need second chances now and then.
    Imperfect households exist.

    But most of us do pray that God will help our children!

  4. There is nothing BUT imperfect homes, and no one is ever beyond God’s reach. My point, however, is that if the scenario described is necessary, the parents have already neglected 99% of their responsibility, and in the words of a recent book, the children are “already gone.” Of course the parents should repent and begin doing what they should have been doing during the child’s formative years. And, of course, PRAY! It’s not a matter of “second chances” — it’s a matter of vocation, repentance, and God’s boundless mercy.

  5. @Erich Heidenreich #3

    Indeed. An hour at confirmation class with the pastor is worth a lot, but how much better is it the parents do their job at home from the time their children are infants. An hour at confirmation once/week is not a lot compared with the 8 per day many spend getting worked over in the schools.

  6. So why is one of the Bishops in the ELCA proposing to abolish Confirmation across that denomination and replace it……….with meaningless, ambiguous, “new age” drivel language……that is to say “nothing”…….I guess the Bishops in the ELCA think they can better promote universalism and authoritarian socialism with an extremely ignorant laity……sad but typical for them:

    Michael Girlinghouse introduced CA13.06.29


    WHEREAS, the word “confirmation” does not appear in Scripture or in the Confessions; and
    WHEREAS, the ritual and tradition of “confirmation” no longer confers real responsibility for
    discipleship, leadership, or vocationfrom congregational leaders to youth emerging from “childishways”, and only really frees most youth from needing to continue to attend to study, worship,service, and receiving the Sacraments with this church once the requisite number of recordedinstances ofstudy, worship, service, and receiving the sacraments needed to achieve“confirmation” have been achieved; and
    WHEREAS, the youth are not the future
    of the Church, but the once and immediate Church; and
    WHEREAS, the congregations of this church who grow spiritually also study, worship, serve, andpray intergenerationally; and
    WHEREAS, various (though few) congregations of this church have discovered a
    venues towardlifelong intergenerationaldiscipleship among their members either by delaying such rituals of passage known as “confirmation”, or by replacing a
    “confirmation” tradition with an intergenerational model of faith formation and discipleship training; therefore, be it
    RESOLVED, that the ELCA discontinue published use of the term “confirmation” as it relates tothe educationtradition of the ELCA from all future publications (curricula, model constitutions,hymnals, etc.); and be it further
    RESOLVED, that the congregations of the ELCA discontinue practice of “confirmation” as it
    relates to the ritual of passage for youth or young adults into voting membership in congregations; and be it further
    RESOLVED, that the ELCA fully implement Luther’s doctrine of vocation as the rationale and
    basis for preparation for lifelong discipleship; and be it further
    RESOLVED, that the ELCA encourage congregations to develop and establish rituals of passage into adult discipleship and ministry, such that those congregations’ baptized members who recognize and who are able to articulate God’s call to practice their various vocations and Spiritual gifts as disciples of Christ in the world also receive the public
    recognition and affirmation of those gifts and vocations by the congregations into which and among whom those individuals live out their vocations and Spiritual gifts; and be it further
    RESOLVED, that the congregations of the ELCA become centers of lifelong and intergenerational study of Scripture and catechesis, worship and service, prayer and giving; and be it further
    RESOLVED, that the congregations of the ELCA end “confirmation” as ritualized right of youth have completed required steps and requirement”

  7. @RJ #7

    You ask “why”, and the answer is simple: because the ELCA is no longer Evangelical, Lutheran, or the Church. The only thing they get right in their name is “America”, but even that leans more toward Progressive, social justice, post-modern, leftist America than orthodox Americanism.

  8. Joel…..The “why” was purely sarcastic…….I would add moral-relativist and promoter of God-withinism to your list!

  9. RJ –

    I concern myself with ELCA’s non-Lutheran nature as I do Buddhism – eminently worth ignoring, not worth raising in a conversation such as the actual post puts forth. ELCA and its defection from Confessional Lutheraniism is very OLD news.

    What was written in the post is the point. The solution is out there.

    Disparaging the known heretics won’t help much. Comments go awry, and things become meaningless, as is already happening on this thread.


  10. Joel – Agreed but understanding the know heretics latest tactics and errors is useful……when I was in the military we had a saying about understanding how the enemy thinks……we live simulanteously in Satan’s Kingdom and God’s Kingdom so we indeed have the solution but we need to know what the enemy is up to employ it most effectively……but again, you are correct

  11. I attended a Lutheran Day School in the ’50’s and we had Confirmation class with the pastor twice a week for a hour. The children who attended public school would come on Wednesdays after school for one hour and then on Saturday morning for the same amount of time. I noticed a change starting in the ’80’s. Confirmation class became a one hour class on Sunday morning for the 7th and 8th graders with the pastor right along with Sunday School. My own children had the one hour a week catechism. My husband and I tried to supplement that by having family devotions after supper. This became harder to do when our children became involved in sports in high school. We still tried to incorporate what I would call a ‘Lutheran ethos’ in the home.

    We live in a completely different world today. I believe most LCMS families don’t send their children to parochial school or home-school them. In my own congregation, confirmation class is one hour on Sunday morning. My pastor has trouble getting the children to come to church when they don’t acolyte and even then some of them don’t show up when they are scheduled to acolyte! This open letter from the editor of the Lutheran Witness is excellent and needed!

  12. This was great and so many good comments!
    I am a new Lutheran having been in the Evangelical world all my life. My children had lots of Church and Sunday School, but no confirmation and neither did I. I am now, as an adult, going through it and I just told our Pastor last week how much of a blessing it is, even though I have been a Christian and have known, or at least thought I did, most things regarding my faith. I now wish my children would have had confirmation as well. I did have a Bible teaching church that stood on the Word and gave the Gospel clearly. However, I did miss out on confirmation and that is too bad. I am loving being able to have it now. I am also really liking Steadfast Lutherans and Worldview Everlasting along
    with Issues, Etc and can’t leave out for Christ centered music.

  13. I got you RJ, was just adding to it!

    jb, true that ELCA being non-Lutheran is old news, but they still use the term and, being the largest body, give the impression that they speak for all Lutherans.

    To the OP, great points. Parents are given the charge to be the authority for their children’s education, and spiritual education is more important than earthly. After all the Small Catechism is not addressed to pastors, but to the hausvater.

    Our current church (LCMS) has a two year program studying Scripture one year, the Small Catechism the next year, and daily Scripture reading assignments. There’s also a continuous memory work program for all kids, not just Confirmands. It’s different than what I went through with WELS, three years of Catechism study.

  14. you can call the ELCA non-Lutheran if you must. As far as the greater world is concerned all Lutherans are the same, no amount of explanation ever gets anything more than the ol are you crazy look.

  15. So why is one of the Bishops in the ELCA proposing to abolish Confirmation across that denomination

    – To eliminate a forum for students to ask the questions they really want to ask
    – To remove an opportunity for these young people to read the small catechism
    – To eliminating an opportunity to rightly instruct youth by the few faithful pastors the bishop fears may be hiding out as light in the darkness the ELCA has become

  16. Thanks, RJ, for posting the text of the Bishop’s overture.

    It seems he laments kids leaving after confirmation. I don’t think abolishing the term confirmation will change the attendance patterns of ELCA youth.

  17. @Mrs. Hume #16
    Mrs. Hume –

    I totally agree with your theory of why the ELCA Bishops want to do away with confirmation….

    I would also offer the suggestion that they want to replace the Gospel with their “new gospel” of self-appointed work of politcal Marxism…..

    Most of the ELCA leaders (and a majority of ELCA “Pastors” I have met) were much more concerned with guilting their congregations into supporting what they termed “social justice” and “radical political change”……..good ole fashion Communism is what it amounted too

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