Here’s a disclaimer to this post: I never went through confirmation class as an adolescent.
So I don’t have any memories of nine months of classes, meetings with mentors, and then a holy moment of joining the church just in time to graduate from sixth grade. I just don’t.
As a result, my views about confirmation may well be biased.
But the fact is, I struggle with the traditional, year-long confirmation program. And while there are several reasons for my struggle — including a) the fact that Christianity is less a course to be learned than a decision to be made and then an experience to be lived and b) many young teens see it as “graduation” from church as a whole — my fundamental reason is this:
It shows a lack of trust in your youth ministry.
Think about it. If you really believe in what your youth ministry is doing, then students will get much of what they need to get about the Christian faith and life within the bounds of the Sunday night program. And that includes the distinctively Methodist contributions to the Christian world. The teens then get the rest at home and in Sunday morning worship.
Why should they come back out for a second helping of the same basic material?
It adds complexity and redundancy when churches should strive for simplicity and focus.
Now I’m spoiled on this. Because I trust our BigHouse Youth Ministry — in fact, I’m usually blown away by it.
And I know that kids are getting both content and life experience in that venue.
We also offer occasional short-term baptism and membership events and classes through BigHouse. But we don’t offer a shadow version of youth group.
Because in our case at least, the youth group we have is confirming all that’s good about God . . . and about the teens themselves.