What is Confirmation?
Confirmation is a ministry for 6th grade youth (and older) and their families. It is a time when you will learn about and experience the Christian faith. You will learn about our roots and heritage as Christians and United Methodists, the practices of the Christian faith (the Bible, worship, prayer, ethics) and the basic beliefs of the Christian faith, including God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation, hope beyond death – to name a few. We will also focus on how to be committed disciples of Jesus Christ. We will have a retreat, a mission opportunity, along with our weekly sessions. At the end of the process, students will have the opportunity to confirm their faith, be baptized if they have not been baptized before, and become full members of the church. We want to stress that the decision to be confirmed is just that – a decision. It is a choice and it is not required.
A Change In This Year’s Process
This year we have decided to take a more holistic approach to Confirmation. After Jesus called the disciples to
follow him, they engaged in a 3-year journey together leading to a much deeper understanding of who Jesus was and what he was calling his disciples to do. Typically, in the past, we have asked young people to gather for about 15 weeks, teaching them the basic tenants of the faith, giving them knowledge, without giving them ample time to practice and demonstrate faith before determining whether this is the life to which they are called. What we have generally observed over the years is that this is simply not enough time for faith to develop enough roots for most students to make an informed decision – a decision which carries so much significance.
In order for faith to develop roots, there are some basic truths we must accept: 1) we are called to engage in regular expressions and practices of faith and 2) we are called to offer these expressions in community. For these reasons, we have decided to implement a confirmation process that is similar to last year’s process, while also attempting to incorporate more opportunities for students to regularly practice (and/or wrestle with) their faith in community. As an added benefit, our confirmation process this year will work cooperatively and in conjunction with the youth ministry, directly tying in to ministries and activities that a) provide opportunities for students to engage and practice their faith in community and b) (ministries and activities that) are already in place.
We will effectively have two components to Confirmation: learning and doing. In the fall, we will meet regularly on Wednesday nights. Students will first gather with all the youth upstairs in the youth room for dinner and then have some time to play games. Then, from 7-8:00pm, we will gather for a time of learning for the first half of our time, following which students will break into small groups that are divided by gender for the second half. We will meet as indicated by the dates on your schedule and this will satisfy the “learning” component of confirmation.
In the winter/spring months, we want students to continue to learn and grow in their faith, and we want them to do it within the church community. If we are asking students to join the church, we want them to be actively involved in the ministries of the church, primarily in the youth ministry; furthermore, we expect them to be actively engaged in worship. These components are crucial to developing a deeper faith and integrating that faith into our daily lives. Consequently, we expect youth and their parents to be actively engaged in the ministries of the church and in worship during the totality of the confirmation process (more on this to come) in order for confirmation to have the greatest impact.
Finally, another two components that are important for faith development are Sabbath and serving. As part of this year’s process, we are requiring all those who wish to be confirmed to attend our youth middle school retreat at Epworth (i.e. Sabbath) in the fall and the youth missions weekend in the spring (i.e. serving).