Monday, July 20, 2009

Pick a Church, Any Church

Well, no, not just any church will do. (Even if you live in Collinsville.)

Instead, here's a handy guide to help you if you're shopping for a church:
Cwirla's Guide to Church Shopping

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Proposed Structure for Catechesis

Here's what I'm kicking around for catechesis for this year. Feel free to read and offer any feedback.

What is Catechesis?

Catechesis is the Lord’s way of teaching us how to live with the faith that has been given to us. This happens throughout our entire lives as Christians, from baptism until we die. Our chief catechists are our parents, which is why each section of the Catechism begins “As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.”

How are parents catechists? They model the faith for their children. They also set aside time for daily family prayer and devotions. Fathers are pastors to their families. In a father’s absence, or should he abdicate this God-given role, mothers, godparents, and older siblings take up the slack.

As a congregation, we have chosen to supplement this lifelong catechesis—at home by parents and in the Divine Service—with time of intentional catechesis by the pastor. This cannot replace the work done by parents, nor is it intended to. These years should lead to confirmation, which is the opportunity for a person to profess the faith the Lord has given to him at baptism.

Who is ready for catechesis?

Anyone 5th grade or older who can recite to me the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer, who regularly attends the Divine Service is ready to begin catechesis.

Who is ready for the Lord’s Supper?

Forcing children to wait until they have reached an arbitrary age or until they have acquired a certain amount of knowledge teaches falsely about the Lord’s Supper that it is a reward to be earned. It is not. It is a gift that can only be received freely. It bestows the forgiveness of sins that all Christians desperately need. Moreover, it helps us in our daily struggle against sin.

The Lutheran Confessions indicate that in order to prevent a person from receiving the Lord’s Supper to his condemnation, no one is admitted to the fellowship of the altar without being examined and absolved. Those who know their need for forgiveness, who know what Jesus offers in His Supper, and who know the basic texts of the catechism are well prepared for the Lord’s Supper.

I expect all children to be receiving the Lord’s Supper prior to confirmation. In many cases, I expect them to be receiving the Lord’s Supper before beginning catechesis. The Lord’s Supper is for their benefit, and it’s simply wrong to deny it to those who would receive it for the forgiveness of their sins.

Who is ready for confirmation?

There is no fixed number of years of this intentional catechesis. Confirmation asks of a person that he confess he would rather die than depart from the faith given to him by God. It’s like a wedding; if you’re not ready to say “until death parts us,” you’re not ready to be married.

Catechumens who have been life-long attendees at the Divine Service and who have been going to Sunday School regularly will find catechesis easy and will probably be ready for confirmation much sooner. Others may find catechesis more difficult and may find the process takes a few years.

A person is ready for confirmation when he demonstrates a desire to live as a baptized child of God. He will know his sin and his need for a Savior. This means he will be present for the Divine Service. He will take advantage of opportunities like Sunday School and Bible Class. He will avail himself of private confession & absolution. He will demonstrate a life of repentance and faith.

As the called steward of God’s gifts and the one charged with watching over your salvation, I will make the decision regarding readiness for confirmation. There will be two dates per year for confirmations: the Easter Vigil and the Festival of the Reformation. Those who seem ready will be notified a few months prior to confirmation.

What will our relationship be?

Parents determine how well this works. You also determine our relationship as catechists.

  • If you want your children to grow up well instructed in the Christian faith, these years of catechesis will be worthwhile, and you and I will be allies in this endeavor.
  • If you love what God does for you and your children in the Divine Service and in regular opportunities for growth (like Bible Class, Sunday School, Luther League, and Catechesis), these years of intentional catechesis will be fun, and you and I will be allies.
  • If you struggle with how best to have daily family devotions and want to be a better example of the faith to your children, I will be your ally and a valuable resource.
  • If attending the Divine Service every week is not a priority for you, it will not be for your children, and you and I will be adversaries during the time of catechesis.
  • If having daily family prayer and devotions is not something you value for your family, catechesis will be difficult for your children and you and I will be adversaries during this time.


Catechesis will be Wednesdays from 7:00 until 8:30, beginning September 30.

We will meet every Wednesday, except 1/6 and 3/31.

We will not meet when inclement weather cancels school.


7:00-7:45 Service of Prayer and Preaching

7:45-8:30 Classroom discussion

Parents and baptismal sponsors (godparents) are encouraged to attend with their children.

*During Advent and Lent, and on other Feasts and Festivals, a service of Advent or Lenten vespers or a Divine Service will take the place of the catechetical service.


Learn by Heart

There will be a Learn by Heart assignment each week. Catechumens will recite the memory work to the pastor each week. By the conclusion of catechesis, a catechumen will know the Small Catechism by heart. This will be much easier than you think J.


Each week before class, the catechumen and his parent(s) should read through and discuss the Bible lesson for the following week.

Sermon Reports

Every time a catechumen hears a sermon preached, he should answer these three questions. These should be able to be answered in a sentence apiece. Sermon reports should be placed in the sermon report box under the mailboxes at the conclusion of the service. Don’t make this harder than it is. Don’t work on this at home; do it during the sermon.

  • What was the Law?
  • What was the Gospel?
  • How does this apply to me?

Do not summarize the sermon.


We will go on a Fri-Sat retreat in the spring. We will need 1-2 chaperones. These must be parents. If we don’t have volunteers, we can’t go.


  • Workbook—Each catechumen is required to purchase a workbook each year of catechesis. ($20 this year)
  • Bible—Each catechumen will receive a Bible from the church.
  • Small Catechism—The Sunshine Circle provides each with a catechism.
  • Notebook & Folder
  • Pen or pencil

Have Jesus, Need Money

I got an email today addressed to “fellow beloved Missouri Synod brothers, sisters, pastors and church leaders.” It was from a congregation in Ohio requesting funds to help them buy their new building back from foreclosure.

Formerly named “The Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer,” the congregation moved from Silverton, OH ten years ago twenty miles away to one of the “fastest growing communities” in Ohio, Hamilton Township. They renamed themselves Crosspointe Community Church (

Fun fact: Silverton is 45% white, 50% African-American, with a median household income of $35,117. Maineville, the central city in Hamilton township is 98.6% white, with a median household income of $55,714. Loveland, OH, the big city just 6 miles away, is 95.7% white with a median household income of $52,738.

Things went well for a while, with growth and success, but after a while, the financial situation went south. Now the congregation is sending out requests to sister congregations of the Missouri Synod (most of whom probably still retain the moniker “Lutheran” in their names) to ask for money.

I’m not offended at a congregation’s request for assistance. We’re all members of the same Body of Christ, and so we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. And, when possible, we help others through money and labor.

But congregations close all the time. Christ established His Church on the rock of Peter’s confession, and the gates of hell will never triumph over the Church. But congregations wax and wane. Even when planted in a “ripe mission field,” a congregation is not promised tomorrow.

So what’s the difference? The “ripe mission field,” of course.

Why are congregations in wealthy white suburbs with self-described exciting worship worth saving while an inner-city parish or a rural one is not? Don’t people in areas that aren’t growing quite as quickly need Jesus? Don’t the members of The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Silverton, OH who were unable to drive 20 miles to Crosspointe Community Church (or maybe they just couldn’t find it in the phone book after the name change) need Jesus?

Why when a congregation with regular, liturgical worship (the kind you find in a red, blue, or burgundy book) folds, it’s because they were too close minded or refused to adapt to the times? But when a congregation that is “like many of today’s exciting churches” with “meaningful and relevant worship” featuring “‘high-energy,’ rockin’ Christian praise music” faces foreclosure, it’s merely a matter of unfortunate circumstances?

Monday, July 13, 2009

We Must Obey God Rather than Men

The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (superceded only by the Supreme Court) upheld a Washington law requiring all state-licensed pharmacists to dispense the Plan B or "morning after" pill. According to makers of this pill, it functions, in part, by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. In other words, if you believe life begins at conception (and not at implantation), the morning after pill is an abortificient. And now pharmacists are required to provide abortions.

May God grant them the strength and courage to refuse to traffic in death and to oppose this evil legislation.

Here's an LA Times article. And here's a discussion at Touchstone.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It still would have been a good name...

From today's Treasury:

Judges 3:31 After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.