This is an important week in the life of Second Presgyterian Church in Indianapolis. This is confirmation week. I have had the distinct privilege of walking through the confirmation journey with students every year for the last 24 years in the same place. It is one of many highlights in youth ministries for me.
There are plenty who question the efficacy, necessity, and relevance of confirmation. There are others who wonder if it is anything more than checking a box in order to fulfill a religious obligation. I willingly admit that many important questions must be asked and addressed concerning confirmation as the church as a whole continues to change in our increasingly post-Christendom world (for more on post-Christendom see John Vest's helpful posts here). However, I firmly believe that confirmation continues to be important. My adventure at Second has allowed me to see the importance of confirmation (and all of that which follows) on and in the lives of the almost 40 year-olds who were a part of the first confirmation class I had the honor of leading at Second.
Admittedly, the confirmation experience does not exist in a vacuum. There are many factors in a young person's faith development that are more important than confirmation or a youth program (see Search Institute's research on influences on adolescent faith development at www.search-institute.org), but confirmation can be an vital piece of the whole. Confirmation is only one step in the journey of faith, and in order for it to be done effectively, it must be seen as such.
Allow me to give 10 reasons why I think confirmation, and all that surrounds it, is still a vital part of what the church does.
- a celebration of each student for who they are;
- a chance for young people to have their questions honored and their faith journey taken seriously;
- a time for exploration not indoctrination.
- an opportunity for young people to have honest and open conversations about faith, doctrine, and practices in a developmentally appropriate manner within the walls of the church wih caring and supportive people surrounding them;
- a way to connect to the church as a whole (something bigger than self);
- a unique occasion for inter-generational cooperative discovery;
- an avenue for mentoring, mentoring, mentoring (for more on mentoring see Now Is the Time);
- a rite of passage (as much as we may like to think otherwise, rites of passage still play an important role in our life together);
- a way to assist young people in the development of intentional theological thought;
- a focused opportunity to consider the Christian faith.
Confirmation is not the only way to do all of the above but can be an effective way to concentrate our energies and efforts.
What are your thoughts?