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Some of you may be familiar with the word catechumen (cat∙e∙chu∙men), but my guess is that many of you are not, have never heard the word or at the very least have heard it but have no idea what it means. The Lutheran Service Book (LSB) resurrected the word and uses it in the rites of Holy Baptism and Confirmation and in the section of Prayers, Intercessions and Thanksgivings. Catechumen simply means “hearer of the Word” or “disciple.”

In the early Church, adult converts to the Christian faith who were undergoing a period of instruction in preparation for Holy Baptism were called catechumens. Even though the word catechumen is somewhat archaic and unknown to many in the church today, I admire the LSB for its attempt to reclaim the word and I actually prefer it over “confirmand” or “confirmation student.”

In a little over a week, we will have our parent and student orientation for youth confirmation or catechesis classes. At that orientation we will talk about what confirmation or catechesis is and what it is not. The word confirmation, of no fault of its own, is often associated with “graduation.” As we know, we do not “graduate” when we are confirmed!

Catechesis (cat∙e∙che∙sis), another word being resurrected in Lutheran circles, means “to instruct and teach by word of mouth.” Specifically, catechesis is more than classroom instruction and learning facts. Catechesis is also not about graduation, but rather it's about being formed as disciples of Jesus and incorporated into the life of the church. This formation in Christian identity and living doesn't end after two years of instruction!

While catechumens will eventually receive the solemn rite of confirmation, catechumens are disciples for life, not just for a few years of confirmation or catechesis classes. In a very real sense then, or in a broad use of the term, we are all catechumens or disciples of Jesus who need to continually sit at our Lord's feet so that He might continue to raise us up, shape us and form us to be more like Him.

When Jesus gave the command to make disciples of all nations, He commanded the Church to baptize and teach. That is how God makes disciples and that is how God forms and shapes disciples from the font to the grave! There are many opportunities this fall to be connected to the teaching of God's Word here at Saint John’s. Where will you continue to be shaped and formed as catechumens, disciples of Jesus?

In Christ's Service,
Pastor Nettleton

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 970-305-2420.