Remembering our history

The Impact of Confirmation

For decades, confirmation classes were a significant element of church life for young people.

Confirmation classes were a long-standing tradition of church life in the state Lutheran churches in Scandinavia (where the EFCA originated), along with baptism, marriage and burial. Unfortunately, it was often part of a dead orthodoxy.

Black and white image of 15 young men and women with their instructor
A 1930 confirmation class at Central Free Church with Rev. Milton Nelson

Still, confirmation classes have played a major role in the lives of young people in our churches. In the early years of the Norwegian churches, these classes typically met weekly for two years; the pastor would instruct the young people in the basics of doctrine, the history of the church and apologetics. At the end, the teens would respond to questions from the pastor in front of the whole church to graduate.

In his book Stumbling Toward Maturity, Dr. Arnold T. Olson describes in great detail how young lives were touched in these classes (p. 159-62). Some received their first Bible, many gave their lives to the Lord and decided to be baptized and some were even called to missions.

A black and white image of 21 young men and women in white robes with their teachers
A confirmation class at Crystal Free with Tom McDill and Jim Forstrom

Over the years several curricula were written and used in our denomination, several of which are still available. Even today many churches continue to have confirmation, while others have developed different means of reaching the youth. No matter the method, we need to place great priority on guiding our youth toward lives of walking with Jesus and following Him wherever He leads.

Does your church still have a Bible instruction class for teens? How was your life touched by confirmation?

Tom Cairns

Tom Cairns is the archivist for the EFCA. A physician who worked for 19 years in Congo, Tom later served as director of international ministries for the EFCA mission, now known as ReachGlobal. Since retirement, Tom enjoys sharing stories about the history of the EFCA, answering questions from our churches and helping the churches with their own stories. He also uploads our historical books, photos and documents to our archive website. Tom’s great desire is to bring glory to God as we celebrate the history we have in the EFCA.

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