Wednesday, February 19, 2014

CONFIRMATION: Instead of a Graduation....

I'm asked this question on a regular basis:  Why do people treat 8th grade confirmation like it's graduation? My response is always the same. Why do YOU treat it like it's graduation? I'm not going to reiterate my previous post on the topic but I do have a few new thoughts and suggestions.

Confirmation Used to Include First Communion 
First Communion is a big deal and that is why there were white robes and red carnations involved. They signify our sins becoming white as snow as we join in the body and blood of Christ at the Lord's table. When many churches moved first communion to an earlier age, the white robes and red carnations did not follow. Should a congregation have reconsidered the idea of confirming the faith, what that means, and how it should be done when they made that change?

Confirming your Faith at 13 Seems Premature 
Years ago many kids were completing their formal education and entering the workforce after the 8th grade. Today, with respect to maturity, adolescence ends at about age 26 and cognitively the brain is fully developed at about that time as well. Knowing this should we not have reassessed the program long ago to assess the cognitive and maturity issues?

My suggestions then are:

  • Do away with the 8th grade confirmation graduation-like ceremony and have a different type of ceremony that celebrates what the kids have learned. 
  • Don't treat it like the student now knows everything about God, the church, and their faith. Ask them what they want to know more about, what they want to continue to learn about, or what puzzles them the most about God, Jesus, and the Bible. Do not ask them what they want to do for Christ with their lives. They're 13!!!!
  • Do away with the tradition of public witnessing by answering questions in front of the congregation. First, it's tradition and there can be a new tradition. Second, public speaking is a huge fear for most people much less for 13 year olds. To alleviate this stress pastors give them questions and answers to memorize. Is the goal to have them recite what they've been told? There are so many other ways students can confirm what they believe and share what they have learned. (Stay tuned for a future posting on this topic.) 
  • Add future opportunities through high school where students have opportunities to witness to the congregation and/or opportunities for other adults in the congregation to witness to them. At what age do we stop confirming our faith and sharing what we've learned?

No comments:

Post a Comment