Basics of Confirmation
As with much of youth ministry, confirmation is contextual. Faith traditions, church history, current leadership, and the larger community can all impact how you might establish a meaningful, faithful, and viable confirmation journey for your students. However, there are a few practices that can work in many different settings:
Start with sharing.
Constantly connect the story of God with the stories of your students. Begin each session by asking, “Where do you see your story connecting with God’s story?” Consistent real-life application may be the most important aspect of your students’ confirmation journey.
Open the Bible.
This instruction is simple yet sometimes forgotten. Encourage your students to read a Bible story from different perspectives. Allow creativity in how they fill in gaps in the story. Provide students with their own Bibles, and encourage them to highlight verses and make notes in the margins.
Be intentional in your topics.
There is an unending list of topics you can discuss with students. Before you set your schedule for the year, discuss with your leaders the why of confirmation. Then evaluate every topic to determine whether or not it fits into your overarching vision.
Value their questions and doubts.
In other aspects of our students’ lives, they’re evaluated in absolutes: How many goals did you score? How many mistakes did you make in that musical piece? How many correct answers did you give?
[bctt tweet=”Provide a safe space for your students to authentically explore their own beliefs.” username=”ys_scoop”]
In doing so, they will experience abounding grace.
Leave the classroom and practice discipleship.
The meaning of discipleship can vary among faith traditions. Discern the important elements of discipleship for your worshiping community, and provide ample opportunities for your students to practice. These experiences will have long-lasting impact for your youth.
Invite students into the larger church family.
Regardless of the size of your church, there’s a great deal that happens in preparation for worship and education. Allow students to experience these roles firsthand.
[bctt tweet=”Experiences will last longer in your students’ memory bank than lectures will.” username=”ys_scoop”]
Go on a retreat—even if it’s just for the day or an afternoon. Put away the phones (this goes for adults, too). Face-to-face time between youth and their adult leaders—and between the students themselves—is vital for any youth ministry, including confirmation. What you do on the retreat is secondary to going on retreat.
Demonstrate the importance of Sabbath rest.
Students are well aware of what it means to be busy—they multitask all the time. Model for them and invite them to participate in stopping, resting, and reflecting on Christ. (This fits in nicely with “get away.”)
Partner with mentors.
Aim for each student to have five faithful adults in his or her life during confirmation and beyond. A few years ago, Chris Dortch wrote an excellent blog post, expanding our vision for youth leaders and mentors. Volunteers don’t have to be young, cool, or up-to-date on current trends to be a good youth mentor. Students need mentors who live out their faith, express interest in students’ lives, and consistently show up.
What practices have you found meaningful in a confirmation process?
Chip Pope has been in youth ministry for the last sixteen years, serving churches in Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. He’s an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and is currently the Associate Pastor of Youth and their Families at White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, NC. Chip chats about youth ministry, family, and sports on Twitter at @cpope3.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.