On Pastoral Examinations of First Communion Candidates

This past month has really convinced me of the benefit of pastoral examinations of catechumens. I’ve always avoided it in a formal setting, because I don’t want to contribute to the “pass the test and graduate” mindset. However, exercising pastoral care by teaching children to confess the faith is a great and mighty gift, and a wonderful tool that I believe we have lost over the past couple generations.

In about ten days or so we will be having the first communion for five of our young catechumens, ranging from grades 2-5. As a part of this practice, I am using the wonderful rite out of the Pastoral Care Companion for examination. Basically what I’m doing is I meet with the child, their parents and an elder at the family’s home (typically). Then we go through the examination, which at it’s heart has the Commandments, the Creed and the Our Father, as well as essentially Luther’s Christian Questions and Answers.

What a great thing! Five times this month I’ve had the privilege of hearing these young people confess the faith once delivered to the saints. I can’t believe I’ve been ordained for thirteen years and have never really sat down and done these examinations.

What was I thinking?

I can hardly express what a blessing these confessions have been. It has served as a great opportunity to hear what actually sinks in, and what doesn’t. I’ll try and write more about this tomorrow, but it is a great gift to Christ’s Church. God be praised.


3 thoughts on “On Pastoral Examinations of First Communion Candidates

  1. I agree with you, Pastor Peperkorn. These opportunities for pastoral care with the young catechumens are a priceless treasure. The Lord be with you as you serve those lambs and sheep of Christ with His means of grace.

  2. I think a lot of it has to do with the culture of the congregation. Public examinations can really contribute toward the "Graduation" mentality of confirmation. If that is the case, then I would work to remove it or reform it. However, given young Christians and opportunity to confess the faith before their parents and perhaps and elder of the congregation is a good and salutary thing. As I said, I can't believe I haven't done this all along. It has been nothing but a good experience to this point.

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