I changed the way I teach confirmation this past year. I had to.
With the advent of a more mobile society and the involvement of families in their children's activities--especially on weekends, Sunday School for children has almost become a relic of the past. Where once classrooms were filled on Sunday mornings, they are mostly barren in many congregations.
Consequently, when youth arrive in Confirmation, they are ill prepared to talk about any sort of significant doctrines of the Lutheran Church. They have little or no understanding of the biblical story that our doctrines are based upon. Therefore, you can't even begin to talk about Luther's explanation to the First Article of the Apostles' Creed since the kids have little concept of what God has done not only in creation but throughout Salvation History as recorded in the Bible.
Young folks have a lot--A LOT--of catching up to do. Too much to cram into two years of class.
And so, I began assigning the kids homework. Quite a bit of homework. They were required, in a month's time, to read a significant chunk of scripture and answer questions about their reading. In doing, they had to learn important portions of the biblical narrative. Then, they had to write an essay on the Christian concept of grace. Finally, they were required to put their faith into action by performing a service project.
When I assigned the final project, I anticipated kids doing minor projects: visiting someone in a nursing home, cleaning up trash, reading to a young student, and the like. I did not anticipate anything like what two of the students decided to do. They dedicated themselves to putting together boxes for Operation Hugs.
They set as their goal to collect enough goods and money to send 30 boxes/care packages to service men and women. As of this typing, they had 38 boxes ready to ship and anticipated getting enough to send 43 packages.
Mind you, these are two junior high students. Young men who are becoming adult men and who will hopefully continue this streak of helping others into their lives.
When I first heard what they were doing, I believed they were going above and beyond what I had asked them to do, and I still stand by that.
This past Sunday, the entire confirmation class joined in to put together these packages as they collaborated together on this project.
This proud pastor just wants to say: GOOD JOB!!