Confirmation, Retreat, and Dugan

I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from posting and writing.  My new job has been more demanding than I thought it would it would be.  Top that with Camden deciding he does not need to sleep anymore and you have the perfect cocktail to wear out anyone.

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On Saturday and Sunday, Aldersgate will confirm 35 students.  These students literally began the year in Genesis and finished their year together in the Book of Revelation.  They have prayed together, studied the Bible together, and grown in faith together.  Last weekend I took these 35 students, along with a great group of confirmation teachers and parent volunteers, on a retreat.

I love teaching confirmation.  It is crazy to think that at the beginning of the year these students were being dragged to church by their parents and now they are dragging their parents to church.  It is crazy to think that these students, many of whom were baptized as infants, will be affirming the vows their parents took for them and taking charge of the faith they now have.  It is crazy to think that I have had the opportunity to be shaped by their questions, and to wrestle with the doubts they have shared.

photo2Over the course of the weekend we discussed five themes to sum up and top off our time together.  We worshiped together, being led by Amy Cox, and at the end of the retreat the students gathered realized that confirmation is more than a 9 month intensive.  Confirmation is more than simply checking off a box on their adolescent to-do list.  On Sunday morning our students realized that confirmation is just the first step in a lifetime of discernment and discipleship.

Between kickball, spider attacks, and a few students going knee deep in a creek, our students learned what it means to serve, give, grow, and share the faith that they will be affirming on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Youth at Jounrey 2014A month before this retreat, I attended another youth retreat.  I gathered alongside 450 hormone-raging, BO emitting middle school students in Goshen, VA.  JOURNEY is a retreat organized by the Jeremiah Project.  The theme for the weekend was Mirrors and the speaker was Dugan Sherbondy.  Dugan is passionate about youth ministry.  It’s the reason he, his wife, and daughter moved from Illinois to Arizona.  When I asked Dugan to sit down for 10 minutes to discuss youth ministry for the Tamed Cynic Podcast I had my doubts that he’d have the time.  Well 10 minutes turned into 30 and we covered everything from each of our current ministry settings to what youth ministry might look like in the coming years.

I hope that the energy and passion Dugan has for youth ministry wears off on to the students who we are confirming this weekend. My prayer is that they too will have mentors like Dugan who can wrestle alongside them as these students confirm their faith and our congregation affirms our commitment to help their faith grow.  I pray that their words, and our words are not empty promises to one another.  My prayer is that this weekend, the culmination of a year’s long study, is the jumping point for a life time of faith.

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