What is Confirmation? “Baptism is God saying, ‘You are mine.’ Confirmation is our agreement back, ‘I am yours.’” In other words, Baptism signifies you are a Christian and Confirmation that you have chosen to be a disciple, and as such, are committed to your local parish.
Age of Confirmands?
- Confirmation is a person’s adult faith decision, so older is better than younger.
- Students experience their life so much differently after starting high school than before that they tend to discount their very real childhood faith experiences. Youth leaders will always help students to honor their previous concrete-operations faith decisions, but we are swimming against their experience of themselves.
- They must be old enough to have experienced life’s challenges in order to have a faith experience that sustains them through those challenges.
- Students must have the developmental maturity to make a lifelong adult decision…when thought of in those terms, 7th grade is pushing it. Please start no earlier than that!
- To make sure students are evangelized not just catechized. Best practice: Begin Confirmation with summer camp! Our Chapel Rock junior high youth camp has a “What is a Christian, and will I be one?” message sequence. The camp program was specifically designed to be a Confirmation pre-retreat.
- For kids to own, “This is my God (Christian), my tribe (Episcopalian/Anglican) and my family (parish).” Best practices:
-Connect old and young. “Adopt a granny/grandy/prayer-partner/buddy programs leave generations connected to one another in ways that give momentum to the entire church.
–Integrate kids into worship at every level possible…segregating in worship builds religious consumers.
–Make church family-friendly. Church exists for the glory of God and the building up of the body of Christ. (Eph. 4) The guiding principle is that those stronger and wiser in the faith serve the weaker and newer. Blend musical forms and instruments.
–Resource the parents to be Christian leaders in the home: Make Confirmation a parent program as well as a student one!
–Make sure the curriculum teaches “why” rather than simply “what.” We want students to understand how Anglican traditions, sacraments and liturgy deepens people’s walk with Christ. Confirmation should be evangelism that leads to a life of discipleship. Even the best curriculum needs translation into your context. Currently many are using Confirm Not Conform.
–Give them the tools to sustain a lifelong faith: walking with God, living a life shaped by faith, serving others, being able to deal with life’s challenges.
- Plan Confirmation as part of the larger “Roadmap of Faith” to take an un-churched person to mature faith: 1) Meet people, 2) Tell them about Jesus 3) Help them to grow, 4) Plug them in to church, 5) Train them to join us.
- Plan your program around experiences: Start Confirmation with camp. End with a service trip. The parishes with the most retention when students become adults came from the our churches doing start/end programs.
- Make Confirmation at least a school year in length.
- Teach a positive message. Often we use language that intentionally differentiating us from other Christians. When students get to college we often lose them to evangelical and RC churches when our kids don’t know how to respond when asked, “Do you know Jesus?” (In Arizona, RC youth programs have adopted evangelical language.) When we start with the universal Christian message and emphasize: “We are like other Christians, but with the following distinctives that will bless you,” we teach our uniqueness without having students think we kept something from them when they get to college.
- Create ownership. The local Catholic diocese is moving towards students having a drivers’ license before starting Confirmation. They put it on the student to drive themselves to the meetings to insure ownership. Find ways to create ownership in your Confirmation program.