Recent Changes FAQ

Change isn’t always easy, especially during a steady torrent of it for the last two years. It’s even more difficult to adjust when communication and desired outcomes are less than clear. Thanks for your passionate engagement around how families are learning to live and love like Jesus for a lifetime. Our calling to flexible partnership with and life-giving response to the shifting needs of families remains strong.

Still want to catch the vision of the adjustments to middle and high school ministry? You might find this list of FAQS helpful. If you have a question that isn’t mentioned here, let us know.

Can you sum up what’s going on?

We are…

• Inviting families into a new opportunity to experience the life of faith together
• Looking through a Lutheran lens when applicable
• Remembering that following Jesus is the ultimate call
• Starting well, “failing” forward fast (God’s grace makes this really easy)
• Refining, responding and learning as we go
• Adding learning experiences next year to respond to emerging needs
• Focusing on how we deepen connections with one another and God’s mission in the world

In-person and online/Zoom options available. Of course, during this transition year, in a pandemic, we are simply inviting families to give it a try and let us know how it’s going. Though this is based on what we’ve been hearing in the ELCA and at Incarnation for a decade, it’s not a perfect model and will need input from families as we move forward together.

Why are we making changes?

In short, because we feel God inviting us to live into our baptismal promises in a more meaningful way, settling into the ancient truth that the family is the primary way we begin to know God and form faith. For a deeper sense of context and inspiration, read Kai’s It’s Monday (on Tuesday) and our August Children, Youth & Family newsletter. The MSM (middle school ministry) and HSM (high school ministry) websites are being updated. Take a look at our Vision 1-Pager too!

We know this will be a stretch for some families; we are attempting some big shifts in culture. This is a transition year in the middle of a pandemic, so we’ll be starting as best we can, adjusting as we go, learning a lot and asking for and offering plenty of love and grace as we go along the way. We are being called into this newness by a loving and gracious God, so let’s be brave together.

Have the outcomes changed?

No, we are still learning to live and love like Jesus for a lifetime…

  • For students, we want them to experience the life of following Jesus they are going to say ”yes” to (affirm) when they are confirmed
  • For adults, we are still affirming and building faith in the experience of following Jesus, and have similar needs as students
  • For families, we know you’re doing your best during a challenging time amidst shifting expectations

Your safety and health are of the utmost importance to us. That is why we are protecting each other by wearing masks and distancing while indoors. During outdoor activities, masks may be removed.

What’s the new Wednesday night schedule? 

Starting October 6…
5 – 6:00 p.m. – gathering time with a food truck for purchase and check-in (if you’d like to join the treat/food truck sponsorship team, let us know)
6 – 6:30 p.m. – energetic and engaging worship with a parent
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. – MSM learning in Incarnation Hall (6-9 grade*), HSM learning in the Youth Room (9-12th grade*)

*9th grade students will be able to choose where they go after worship, from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.:
1) stay in Incarnation Hall with a parent/adult for core class learning
2) head to Youth Room for time alongside peers and formation guides
3) there is also an emerging option: a review of Luther’s Small Catechism

What’s “required” for confirmation?

First, we prefer to use language around expectation and invitation. We ask, “what am I being invited to do?” or “what is expected of me?” or “what do I expect of the church and its leaders?” Second, confirmation is not a sacrament, as it is in the Catholic Church, so it is not a necessary step for us to know that we are loved by God or to follow Jesus well. Lutherans have two sacraments, baptism and communion, which we practice a lot. For those who desire to say a public, resounding “yes” to the baptismal promises we made years ago and experience the full, rich life of the church (i.e. voting on big decisions, serving in leadership roles like council, and stepping into high school ministry leadership team) there is confirmation-track. Confirmation is not a graduation from going to church. It’s an invitation to experience and express the love of God in a more profound way as you grow in faith. So here is a list of expectations to be aware of as students affirm their faith (get confirmed) in 9th grade…

• Parent/adult attend worship and classes with student​​​​​​ (two core classes/year = 4-6 weeks/year)
• In addition, there are fun/service nights (One Wednesday a month) and relationship building events (One Sunday a month)
9th grade only: retreat on February 4-6 at Camp Wapo–“share your story” (One extra day than previous years, similar to “I Believe”)
• One trip in four years ((new) i.e. service, adventure, ELCA youth gathering, summer stretch, summer camp, etc)
• If families/students choose confirmation-track (in 9th grade), the expectation is that they are living the life they are saying “yes” to (i.e. learning through classes, worship in community, serve the world)
• Same number of expectations outlined previously, just structured differently

Can I see a calendar of events?

Sometimes, it’s helpful to see where things go on the calendar and how the program-year plays out. Here is the MSM + 9th grade confirmation-track core class learning schedule for 2021-22. For older teens, here is the HSM (9-12 grade) 2021-22 timeline. Middle School learning with a parent/caring adult will take place in Incarnation Hall (our multi-purpose, gym space near Door 2), while most high school activities will happen in the Youth Room (to the right, once inside Door 2).

What are Core classes?

Simply put, core classes are what we feel form the center of our lives of faith. Things like…

  • Family faith formation – the family/home is where you spend most of your time and energy, so it’s important to God
  • Jesus’ story – we’re following Jesus together, so we’ll dig deeper into who this guy was/is to us today
  • Church inside the walls – we as Lutherans follow Jesus and organize ourselves in certain ways to step fully into God’s mission
  • Spiritual gifts/strengths – God has lovingly created and given you something special to share with the world
  • Church outside the walls – because God lives with/for us, we are invited to live with/for others; wherever you are, that’s where God is working
  • Hard issues – life is full of difficult choices and circumstances and we have so many questions about the best way to live; questions/doubt is part of our journey of faith together and we get to bring everything into a community of faith

What if a parent/caring adult cannot attend worship?

While we encourage students and parents/trusted adults to attend worship together (either on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening), no one will be turned away if they arrive without a parent on Wednesday night. Also, a caring adult could be a neighbor, family friend, aunt or uncle, grandparent, etc. It doesn’t have to be someone from your household. We’re here to support the family in their role as the primary builders of faith for their kids, so thank you for living into and including us in that reality.

Are small groups/formation guides still a thing?

Being known by and knowing others in small groups is an important part of life in our community. It’s still an important way faith is formed in us over a lifetime. And because of COVID, being a guide could mean different things than in years past (table host in Incarnation Hall, service station leader on service nights, etc.), so simply raise your hand if you enjoy spending time with students as they wrestle with issues of faith and God and even challenge your own assumptions. While we will not meet together in small groups weekly right away, as we did pre-COVID, we will gather in the building, on-campus and online to experience each other’s presence. We look to winter or spring to step into small groups again.

(The time commitment will be 6 – 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, starting October 6. Training is on Wednesday, September 15 (5:30 p.m. – ice cream social; 7:00 p.m. – formation guide orientation). Parent and student orientation is on Wednesday, September 22 at 5:30 p.m.).

What’s this I hear about the ELCA Youth Gathering in 2022?

More information coming soon, but yes, we are going to this awesome, amazing faith forming event with 30,000 of our closest friends. It’s in Minneapolis next year (July 24-28, 2022), so we figured, why not?! Registration opens September 22, 2021.

Every three years, 30,000 high school youth and their adult leaders from across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America gather for a week of faith formation known as the ELCA Youth Gathering. Through days spent in interactive learning, worship, Bible study, service and fellowship, young people grow in faith and are challenged and inspired to live their faith in their daily lives. Open to grades 8-12. Financial assistance and fundraising is available, contact Nate Bergengren if this fits your need.