Frequently Asked Questions about Individual Confession:
1. You mean, Confession is part of the Lutheran Church? I thought that was Roman Catholic. It is part of the Lutheran Church. It is the fifth chief part of the Small Catechism. But the reality is that most Lutherans do not take advantage of it. Let us pray for that to change.
2. Must I go to Confession? No. Let's be clear about that. But a better question is, May I go to Confession? Yes. But the best question is, Am I invited to Confession? Very much so! It is here for you!
3. Where does it take place? Although it may take place anywhere, and even over the phone, usually it takes place in the privacy of the pastor's study (sitting, not kneeling).
4. When does it take place? Anytime by appointment. Or the pastor will announce times for Confession, such as the Wednesdays during Lent.
5. How long does it take? Typically no more than five minutes, or even less. A very good confession can be done in two minutes.
6. How will I know what to say? That's easy. A simple, beautiful order is provided in Lutheran Service Book, page 292. The pastor will have it ready for you to use.
7. Would the pastor ever share my sins with others? Absolutely not. Under no circumstances. There is no exception to this rule.
8. How often should I go? Start with once. After that, plan to go once a year or maybe twice.
9. Does my pastor go to Confession too? Believe it or not, your pastor is the congregation's first sinner. He will drive to see another pastor for Confession. This is one reason he wants to offer Individual Confession and Absolution to the members of his congregation: he knows firsthand the spiritual benefits (peace, joy, and a renewed love).
10. But won't he look at me differently after hearing my confession? Far from it. The pastor loves you unconditionally, and compassionately - he feels what you are carrying. He is sent by God to shepherd and to help you. One of the main ways he helps is by hearing your confession and pronouncing forgiveness.
The words which absolution give
Are His who died that we might live;
The minister whom Christ has sent
Is but His humble instrument.