If you are familiar with the Lutheran denomination of Christianity, then you know that the most terrifying moment of a Lutheran adolescent’s life is confirmation. Customarily, after two(ish) years of studying the Bible and Luther’s Small Catechism, Lutheran preteens are presented to their congregations and asked to profess their personal faith.
Our congregation follows the traditional model of confirmation: a ceremony during which students are questioned and expected to answer, using memorized lines from the Small Catechism. After this ceremony, these students are given their first taste of the body and blood of our Lord.
I am a PK – a pastor’s kid. My dad taught my confirmation classes, and because my class consisted of only two giggly preteen girls, we were each required to recite half of the answers from Luther’s Small Catechism. I distinctly remember studying and practicing and worrying for weeks and days and hours.
This spring, on the day of The Dreaded Questioning, two sweet soon-to-be confirmed girls burst into my office. Together, the girls chanted in singsong voices questions and answers from the catechism, quizzing one another while hardcore stressing. Both confessed their nervousness about the ceremony, forgetting lines, watchful eyes of the congregation, etc.
I cut one of these sweet girls off in the middle of her rambling recitation and asked, “Why is your relationship with Jesus important to you?”
Her response will be etched into my brain for the rest of my life:
“That isn’t one of my questions.”
Students in youth ministry, if we as pastors and teachers and leaders are not challenging you to answer that question, we are not doing our job.
Yes, those wise words from ol’ Marty are important. Those questions and answers that you memorize will hopefully impact your faith development and give you insight into Lutheran doctrine and Christianity as a whole.
Your relationship with Christ is more important than your ability to recite the meaning of the Office of the Keys. Your knowledge of the Word of God trumps your knowledge of the words of Martin Luther.
Tell me about your relationship with God. By all means, study and apply Luther’s catechetical teachings to your life. Learn that questioning your faith is not only acceptable but also good. Understand that Luther’s Small Catechism is designed to be a teaching tool for students, to give you clear insight into what the Bible says. But know that your fate as a Christian or a Lutheran or a child of God does not rest upon your ability to memorize and recite the words of mortal men.
Your salvation is secure in the arms of your Savior.
So. Why is your relationship with Jesus important to you?
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
(Romans 8:31, 34-35)