I had a wonderful conversation the other day with a colleague asking questions about Confirmation. I’ve heard lots of struggles with how to put together a Confirmation class, so I thought I’d share some thoughts.
First, no curriculum or model is a one-size-fits all approach.
The real question is, What is the goal of Confirmation?
For some, it’s a content-heavy, squeeze as much info as you can into a short period of time – opportunity for youth to “confirm” their belief system as Christian/(insert denomination here). For others, it’s a process of preparing youth to become members of the Church. Still, there are some for whom it’s a stamp on a passport, obligatory rite of passage that ensures your eternal righteousness.
What does Confirmation mean to you? to your congregation? to your youth?
One way to approach this question, is to consider what you expect of Confirmands once they’ve finished Confirmation. Is it regular attendance, more faithful participation in the life of the church? Is it a coherent set of beliefs that align with the church? Is it the ability to express what they believe, whether or not it perfectly aligns? Is it a sense of belonging to a community of faith, where they feel compelled to participate in worship, fellowship, and missions? Or is it absolutely nothing at all – no expectation of ever seeing them again?
Sadly, I hear from many youth minister colleagues that the latter is the norm. In general, nothing is expected of Confirmands after they finish confirmation. And many are never heard from again (okay, maybe that sounds a little dark; but you get the point).
My hope and prayer is that Confirmation is a process of sacred questioning, community building, identity formation, and meaning-making.
Through Confirmation, we journey alongside youth as they consider what they believe, where they belong, who they are, and how it all connects and makes sense for their life right now and in the years to come.
So what works? What doesn’t work? What should I do? People ask…
Talk to the youth and their parents/guardians, ask what time frames work for them; share your vision of timeframe, content, process, and seek feedback on how that fits into their ever-changing-busy lives. Maybe during Sunday school works, maybe Sunday evenings, maybe Wednesday evenings; maybe a few retreats over the course of a year. Maybe an 8 week long, 6 month long, 9 month long, two year long process works best for you? There are so many times/places/ways to “DO” Confirmation – what matters is, what do you hope to achieve from it? Define your process and set up your sessions based on what you hope the youth will take away from the experience.
Things I include in Confirmation:
- worship – ideally, different forms of worship
- missions – service experiences inside the church and outside in the community; ideally, to try different ways of serving so youth can “try on” their skill sets/talents and discern how God is calling them to serve
- fellowship – fun, games, laughter, non-content based silliness
- sessions – content-focused, multiple-intelligence based lessons on the core values of Christian doctrine and United Methodist beliefs (example 1, example 2)
- a retreat – opportunity to get away from the church building and form community with one another, and to explore more focused content
- an experience of church administration (like a Council Meeting) where youth can see the “business”/decision-making side of church
- a journal, conversation cards, a Bible, and/or some way to “take home” what we cover in our sessions so that Confirmands can continue to process things on their own
- a clear expectation that being Confirmed means joining the church, and a strongly expressed hope that Confirmands will continue to participate in the life of the church with their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness
I LOVE Confirmation. It’s one of the most holy privileges, to journey alongside young people as they’re exploring who they are and what they believe. I’m happy to help if you’re looking for resources or discerning processes, or just need a conversation partner.
Blessings on the journey.
[…] attended, someone asks a Confirmation related question. A few years ago I shared my thoughts on Confirmation in the United Methodist Church and challenged the way we think about Confirmation toward a more […]