Confirmation: Outside the Box
It was the first of three special Confirmation services for my family. My oldest daughter, Nicole, was to be confirmed in about a month, along with her best friend, Samantha. I asked Nicole if Pastor Gary Kitchin had given her catechism questions and Bible verses to memorize. Much to my surprise, Nicole responded, “We’re not doing that. We’re going to present a skit during the service instead.” I smiled politely and said that it was an interesting idea…But in my mind, I wasn’t so sure I was going to like this.
I thought back to my Confirmation over 25 years ago, along with the numerous Confirmation services held since then at Bunker Hill Church. Confirmands nervously standing on the platform reciting in their minds the various creeds, catechism questions and Bible verses. One by one, they would be called up to the pulpit by the pastor to demonstrate to the congregation what they’d learned over the previous two years of study. I assume this format has been fairly typical for most Lutheran Brethren congregations throughout their histories as well.
Since I am on the Elder Board at Bunker Hill, I figured a call was in order to ask Pastor Gary about this change in format. I just wanted to make sure we were prepared for any backlash from breaking “tradition.” Was I still a little skeptical of the idea? Sure, but I also wanted to support Pastor Gary on this and see how it worked out.
Pastor Gary explained how the idea for a Confirmation skit came about: A few months earlier, he had discussed with Nicole and Samantha what would be expected of them on Confirmation Sunday. He presented them with lists of Scriptures, creeds, and other items to memorize and told them he was also preparing questions from the small catechism for them to learn. As they talked about this, their enthusiasm waned and they both looked like he had made them sick.
About the same time, Nicole and Samantha were taking part in a school musical. Pastor Gary went to the performance and saw the girls were very passionate about drama. Seeing that their passion for drama allowed them to firmly and joyfully memorize and recall songs and lines, Pastor Gary thought this might be an effective way for them to take their Confirmation to heart, rather than just rote memorization. He suggested the idea of a Confirmation skit to Nicole and Samantha, and they were both very enthusiastic about the idea.
The next task was to create a skit that would not just entertain the congregation, but be sure to demonstrate the biblical foundations each girl had learned throughout the past two years. From the very beginning of Confirmation, Pastor Gary had set a major goal that each girl would be able to understand salvation by grace through faith well enough, so they would be able to share the gospel with an unbeliever and lead him to Christ. As part of this process, they worked through the evangelism course “The Way of the Master.” The girls really enjoyed the course and suggested it be the basis for the Confirmation skit. Pastor Gary agreed and that laid the foundation for the script of “The Lost Waiter.”
Confirmation Sunday came and I was very excited for this special day in Nicole and Samantha’s lives. I was also cautiously and curiously looking forward to seeing the skit, as Nicole and Samantha had kept it a huge secret from everyone. Would I like this new format? Would it display the girls’ understanding of their biblical foundations? Would the congregation like it?
Granted, I have a somewhat biased view since my daughter was part of the service, but it was a wonderful Confirmation day. The girls opened the service with the call to worship and a prayer, sang a beautiful duet, and shared a testimony of what they learned the last two years. Then they presented “The Lost Waiter” skit, as the girls took their places at a table in a restaurant setting at the front of the church sanctuary and Pastor Gary, the waiter, came to serve them.
Despite being a bit of a traditionalist, I really thought the skit was an effective way for the girls to share with the congregation what they learned the past two years. It wasn’t nervous memorization. It was something that seemed life-changing—preparing them for future service for Christ.
The congregation loved the new format as well. People told Pastor Gary they were amazed at the girls’ understanding of the Scriptures and how clearly the Gospel was communicated through the service. They were very appreciative that Pastor Gary was willing to risk doing something different.
In writing this article, I asked Pastor Gary why he thought the skit would be a good alternative to the standard Confirmation service. He responded, “I know that people learn differently. I sensed these two girls could really benefit from using a format that incorporated their gifts and passion. I feel strongly that through the preparation and the execution of the skit, Nicole and Samantha really got a firm handle on the Gospel, its effect in their own lives and how they could share it with unbelievers. The girls told me that through the skit they had realized a burden for some of their lost acquaintances at school. I think it was a good lesson for them to able to present the Gospel in a practical way through a situation that could routinely happen in their lives.”
As Nicole’s father and an elder at Bunker Hill Church, I’m also glad that Pastor Gary took a risk with our most recent Confirmation service. It wasn’t like mine or my parents’ Confirmation, but it was an effective and meaningful way to impact these young ladies (and those in attendance) as they prepare for the rest of their lives serving the Lord. The format may have changed, but the biblical message was the same and God was glorified.
Matt DeKok is an elder at Bunker Hill Lutheran Brethren Church in Princeton, NJ.