Three Questions with John Oberdeck…
Registration is now open for the 27th Annual Theological Symposium, “From Font to Grave: Catechesis for the Lifelong Disciple” (September 20-21, 2016). We have invited a few of this year’s presenters to answer a few questions as they prepare for the Symposium. John Oberdeck is professor of theology and director for lay ministry at Concordia University, Wisconsin. He will be presenting on the latest brain research and what it tells us about teaching the faith today.
1. What first sparked your interest in the issue of catechesis and confirmation that led you to devote your career to it?
What sparked my interest, as would be the case with any pastor, was the challenge of making the content of the faith relevant to the lived experience of children in early adolescence.
2. What are one or two things that have come out of your work that would be especially helpful for pastors and teachers today?
The more I learn about developmental markers, the less mystifying teen behavior is. I’m also discovering that the very things that adults find most irritating about teens may very well be the most important gifts they bring within their vocation as adolescents.
3. What have you observed about the nature of our students today that needs to be taken into account with our teaching?
The teen brain is not ill or broken, but it does tend to be distracted by many things. Gaining our confirmands’ attention is the first step, and the ubiquitous screen is our main competitor.