Prepared by: Rev John Braaten for St. Peter Lutheran Church, Mesa, Arizona
Preparing for God's Promises
1 ½ hour visits to the home of each child to be baptized. Highly relational in nature, time is spent going over the service but, more specifically, re–emphasizing parental responsibilities in raising a child in the footsteps of our Lord.
A Foundation to Build On (Building Life–Long Traditions)
The importance of traditions in the home (includes a family devotional for the Celebration of Baptism)
On the Baptism of Our Lord Sunday, parents are reminded of their baptismal promises and children receive a gift which is used during their baptismal anniversary ceremony (in our congregation we give a candle).
Setting the Direction of Life in His Steps (Children & Worship)
Traditions are re–visited and the importance of devotions and prayer in a child's life is presented. A variety of devotional materials are available to look at (from a local religious bookstore). A brochure entitled, Children in Worship is discussed.
On a designated Sunday, two–year–olds and their parents come to the altar to receive a special blessing of the church and an age–appropriate devotional booklet.
Formal Introduction to In His Steps
Beginning of Christian Education experience of Sunday School/confirmation. For the first ½ hour, parents are introduced to the concept of comprehensive family–directed confirmation. Children play learning games. In the remaining 15 minutes, children and parents are reunited and cookies and juice are served. The Ceremony of Beginning, tied in with Baptism: the promises of God and the promises of the parents is briefly addressed.
On Rally Sunday, the children are brought to the baptismal font for the Ceremony of Beginnings (parents make the sign of the cross on the head of their child and students are given an age–appropriate "read to me" Bible.)
We Walk With Others
Presentation on Jesus and the disciples. The first thing Jesus did was to gather people around him for prayer and for help. The church is here to be helpers on our walk with Jesus. Deals briefly and simply with the purposes of worship, Sunday school and Confirmation.
The congregation president, on behalf of all the friends in Jesus, presents a special gift to show children that we love them.
Taking the Path to God's Gifts
Meeting with parents and 5–year–olds to discuss Christian Education as a life–long process. Samuel is presented as a role model. Parents and children "sign" a promise/covenant for involvement/support in/of the confirmation program.
During worship, 5–year–olds and parents present themselves at the altar for a service of dedication as they place their promise/covenant on the altar. They also receive an In His Steps lapel pin.
Food for the Journey
- Session 1: Share a meal. Parents and students hear from Eli and Joseph respectively how the Passover and Lord's supper came to be and its unifying power.
- Session 2: Students only, a session on the significance of the four names for the Sacrament.
- Session 3: With parents and children, discuss the nature of God's gift for "feeding our faith". Bread is baked for the communion service.
At Ash Wednesday, students join the congregation for their first Communion.
Learning to Walk with Wet Feet (Baptism)
- Session 1: An evening pool party with parents. Prior to meal, students and parents practice the feeling of "drowning" which sin causes and the sense of freedom when we are "released" by our parents. Discussion is held on belonging and the good feeling that brings.
- Session 2: Students only. Meet at the font and go through a baptismal service letting the kids "baptize" a doll. Letters are read (from parent/parents) as to why they baptized the student. Review "being released" and "belonging" and present the gifts God gives us in baptism.
- Session 3: Review the gifts of God and the promises and how God helps us to live and walk with "wet feet" (in forgiveness). An age–appropriate cartoon depiction of Jesus' baptism is shown and talked about in terms of how baptism assures us, like it did Jesus, of God's love and guidance.
During worship, the second–graders are brought forward, the congregation joins them in renewing their baptismal vows and they are given a scalloped sea shell as a baptismal symbol and sign of their belonging to the family of God.
Compass and Signposts (Introduction to the Bible)
An evening with parents to help students discover how the Bible came to be, with an emphasis on God's promises and how the Bible becomes a book of faith to describe how the promises are fulfilled in people's lives. Also discuss the difference between the Old Promise and the New Promise and why we read the Bible today.
Bible handed out by parents during worship.
God Made Me/You Special
- Session 1: Meet with parents. Concentrate on being made in God's likeness and how they are unique/special. Games are played which emphasize our differences and similarities. Introduction to sexuality: Where were they born? Where did they come from? Who made them?
- Session 2: A doctor speaks about how they are created male and female and the wonderful characteristics of each gender. Deals with proper and improper touching. Also suggests changes that will soon be happening to them and the wonder of it.
- Session 3: Parents return as a pastor deals with the Sixth Commandment, emphasizing the words from Luther, to love and respect each other. Parents share with children how they show love and respect for each other and their expectations for their children.
- Session 4: Deals with anger and how there are things that are okay to be angry about (not respecting other's specialness) and anger over other things. How God helps us deal with anger in love and prayer. Children fill out forms on which they tell why each fellow student is special. This information is compiled and used to create a Why You Are Special certificate.
There is a Celebration of the Family ceremony in which parents hand out a Why You Are Special certificate to their child, and each student hands out to each other a similar certificate.
Encouragement Along the Way (Worship)
- Session 1: Parents are involved as we introduce them and their child to the Order of St. Andrew with presentation of the Order of St. Andrew Handbook to be used for home study (with parents).
- Evening 1: Presentation on liturgy and the LBW. Discussion of Acolyte responsibilities and practical training.
- Evening 2: Watching the movie Sister Act and discussion, with parents, of the purpose of worship in life.
- Session 2: Review of worship learning, Acolyte training (with parents present) and introduction of Service of Investiture for those who wish to join the Order of St. Andrew.
On Sunday following Session 2, the Service of Investiture takes place. Students bring their signed Covenant of Faithfulness. Parents place the Tau Cross on their child as a sign of their commitment to service to God and the Church.
Guidance for Our Walk (The Holy Spirit)
- Session 1: Deals with Holy Spirit, the quiet but powerful and helpful presence of God in our lives. Read Pentecost story with students dramatizing the event. An experiential Holy Spirit Activity culminates this session.
- Evening 1: Students gather with parents to view a cartoon rendering of how the early church was formed (the book of Acts) with ensuing discussion with parents.
- Evening 2: A movie on Martin Luther is shown. Parents help students fill out the question sheet and the movie is shown again. Discussion of how the Holy Spirit reforms and reshapes us today ends the session.
On Reformation Day, students are presented a Certificate of Faithfulness for their participation in the Confirmation program and receive a rendering of Luther's Coat of Arms.
Oh, For a Closer Walk with God
Study Bibles handed out by parents to students at a ceremony during a Service of Worship
Attendance at Bible Camp is required (scholarships available)
- Session 1: Introduction to the Bible
- Session 2: How to Study the Bible
- Session 3: The Old Testament
- Session 4: The Gospels
- Session 5: The Letters and Prophecy
- Evening 1: Part One of movie, Peter and Paul; discussion with parents.
- Evening 2: Part Two of movie, Peter and Paul; discussion with parents.
Keeping the Guidance Systems "On Line"
Twelve Study Sessions
Ten sessions on the Commandments with emphasis on "Keeping our Relationships Strong and Healthy, with God and with One Another"
- Evenings 1 & 2: Movie, "The Life of Christ", with parents involved in the discussions.
- Sessions 11 & 12: Focus on prayer as a way of keeping in contact with God and keeping our souls nourished. Mini–retreat on Prayer with students developing a prayer service to which parent are invited at 9:30 pm. Students are in charge.
Youth participate in worship on the Sunday following the Prayer Retreat and are given public recognition for their service to the church by the Congregation President.A commitment to Follow God's Way
Twelve Study Sessions
- Sessions 1–6: on the Apostle's Creed
- Sessions 7–10: on the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion
- Sessions 11 & 12: on Stewardship. At this time students write a paper on "What the Christian Faith Means to Me" or "What My Confirmation Training Has Meant to Me", to be presented on Affirmation Night. Students will also have final interview with the pastor with parents participating. A mini–retreat on How the Church Works is held prior to the Service of Affirmation of Faith.
- At a Service of Affirmation of Faith, students are presented with a Certificate of Affirmation and a wall cross.
Faith Interface with Reality (Mentor Program, Integration of Christian Faith to Life)
Mentors are selected by each student from the congregation. Mentors attend two training sessions and then are installed during worship
Students meet with mentors in six sessions.
- Session 1: Who I am and How I Feel About Myself
- Session 2: Sharing a recreational event with informal conversation.
- Session 3: My Family and how I Fit Into It.
- Session 4: Sharing a worship experience together and eating out.
- Session 5: My God, My Faith and My Church
- Session 6: Mentor–How my faith influences my life and other bits and pieces.
Personalized Certificate of Appreciation is handed out to each mentor by his/her student.
"Play it Again, Sam" or "Putting Humpty–Dumpty Together"
Six–session review of Christian doctrine from an adult perspective. Questions are encouraged!
Certificate of Accomplishment and a congregational gift is presented to each student.
Blessing and Sending on the Way…In His Steps
A retreat on vocation, God's Calling and My Response
Senior breakfast with a "Baccalaureate" Worship culminating in a Service of Blessing and Sending with the students giving a "class gift" to the congregation.
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