Consistent confirmation participation is on the rise at Our Shepherd Lutheran Church in Avon, Indiana—and for good reason. The church now offers supplemental video confirmation instruction online, and kids and parents alike are engaging in the lessons on a daily basis. The new approach has required a committed video team, a brand-new set of student worksheets tailored to each lesson, and a wholesale shift in the congregation’s Sunday morning schedule, but—according to Dan Lepley, senior pastor—it’s all been worth it.
Instead of the traditional, two-hour confirmation classes on Sunday nights, Our Shepherd now offers confirmation classes in shorter, Sunday morning sessions, supplemented by brief YouTube videos, student worksheets, and small-group discussions. In the process, the church is reaching students through a wide range of tools that meet all kinds of different learning styles.
“Through the new program,” says Pastor Lepley, “the excuse, ‘I couldn’t make it to class,’ is gone. Lessons are available anytime, anywhere, and we expect 100% completion of the videos and worksheets.” The church is on track to achieve that goal, with 22,353 minutes of watch time on the church’s YouTube channel, and 30 out of 42 catechism students completing 80% of the lessons to date. Ten students have completed all of the lessons—two months ahead of schedule!
“In the past,” says Pastor Lepley, “if students missed a class, they missed it. With 70 students in our confirmation program, the likelihood of their making up the class was very small, and kids miss every single week.”
Because the church keeps the video length to 3-7 minutes, kids tend to tune in intently. Thanks to the YouTube platform, confirmation students have the flexibility to replay the videos if needed, and they can learn at their own pace.
After watching each video segment, students complete a written worksheet. The youth leader then teaches a related lesson on Sunday morning, followed by small group time. “By the time kids come to class,” says Pastor Lepley, “they’ve already done the work and have been thinking about the concepts throughout the week, so they engage in discussions in new and powerful ways.”
Even better, parents are tuning in as well. “Faith instruction is most impactful when it comes from the home,” says Pastor Lepley. One parent responded with thanks for the new approach, saying, “I love being able to go to the website and watch, especially since our attendance is so unpredictable. I like being able to email [the videos] to [my college-age children] too…. It seems we will just [have] had a discussion about something, and BAM there’s a video helping/furthering our thoughts or understanding…I need all the clarity I can get!”
As an added bonus, some of the videos were recorded on the church’s recent tour of Israel. “Families can actually see where Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection actually happened,” says Pastor Lepley. “These on-site videos offer them a bigger framework to plug into their spiritual experience and help them realize that what we talk about in the Bible is really, really, really real.”