On Sunday I had the opportunity to stand beside three students as they were baptized and nine others as they confirmed the vows which had been made on their behalf as infants. Confirmation Sunday is the favorite part of my job. Well not just the day but rather the entire confirmation process.
Some churches have a yearlong process and some do it over the course of a few months. We met in the middle and gathered for four months. Meeting every week since January our students had the opportunity to study weekly the overarching Biblical story as well as begin the process of determining how all of that Bible stuff fits neatly into their acne plague lives.
Two weeks ago while on our retreat I told the students this:
Confirmation Sunday is the beginning.
Over the past six years I have become convinced that the way we approach Confirmation Sunday is actually a detriment to the faith formation of the students we are confirming. While recording an episode of Crackers & Grape Juice with Tony Jones, we both made the observation that we treat Confirmation Sunday just like a high school graduation and because of this in many cases students view Confirmation Sunday as the end of their spiritual formation as teenagers.
Is there really any surprise then why when students graduate from high school the most formative faith forming experiences they’ve had are from when they were 11 and 12 years old?
Just like when new members joins a church, Confirmation Sunday is supposed to be the beginning. If congregations took seriously the vows they were making when the confirmands made their vows, how differently would the student ministry settings look?
Would we as youth pastors be begging for small group leaders and Sunday School teachers?
Would mission trips be seen as a response to the acid reflux inward warming of the heart or as opportunities to teach students a lesson about how good they have it?
Would students graduate still graduate from high school with the same understanding of who Christ is that they had when six(ish) years prior?
It’s time for us to rethink the way we approach Confirmation Sunday. I’m not saying that we get rid of it, but rather let’s celebrate new members joining our family and treat it like graduation Sunday.