I've been thinking about Lutheran Zephyr's question for awhile, and finally got around to responding.
I'm one of those born-and-raised-and-never-really-left-the-church kind of Lutherans. I'm not sure how I feel about that (it feels a little boring, to be honest) but since I'm now a pastor married to another pastor, I'm guessing that it will probably remain that way.
Sure, there was a brief time in college when I was dating a boy who thought the whole church idea was kind of hoo-ey, and so I defended him to my parents (mom, mostly, as she was the one who brought it up) and heard myself saying something like, "You know, you don't have to go to church to be a good person." I'm sure we were folding clothes or something equally hand-consuming at the time and she averted her eyes, probably thinking, "This is what I get for letting her go to a STATE SCHOOL instead of that nice, private Lutheran school with the exorbitant tuition." Yeah, I'm sure that's what she was thinking as she nearly said as much.
My dad's family: pillars of a small Lutheran congregation that is part of a small, small branch of Norwegian Lutheran churches that never joined ANY of the mergers during this past century. My mom: grew up Methodist, though we have always gone to the Lutheran church, if only because there wasn't a UMC church around where we lived after I was born. We always went to church; it was just something that we did. Folks think that because I grew up in Minnesota that everyone around me was a Lutheran. But my part of the state was far more Catholic than Lutheran.
My husband is the one who did a fair bit of wandering during college (even leaving the heart of the midwest for The East, surely tempting fate) and whose parents were s-h-o-c-k-e-d when he said he was heading to seminary. Even though his family has been Lutheran for a good long time, he had denounced the entire kit and kaboodle (probably to make his mom mad, but who am I to judge?). So, I guess surprise at the, "I'm going to seminary instead of graduate school to further pursue my major" was appropriate.
Being a Lutheran and articulating my understanding of The Confessions (isn't that a candidacy question at some point?) for me is all about grace, about what Jesus did for me, about the radical idea that through our baptism we are adopted into the God's Family, and the abundant and freely given gift of God's love that we share around the table. I simply love the power of the sacraments as means of God's grace: celebrate them honestly, gather frequently, share the Good News, and live with the knowledge that, sinner though you are, you are a dearly beloved child of God.