“How does your confirmation program fit into overall formation programming?
What are strengths and weaknesses of existing programs? What program comes next?”
Putting Confirmation at the Center
Too often churches only look at confirmation as part of their youth programs, siloed and necessary, but less significant than other ministries. Relegated to six or seven classes for young adolescents, confirmation becomes a box to be checked and an experience to be endured. Even committed and creative leadership cannot make confirmation meaningful if expectations are that low.
Recent research from the Lilly-funded Confirmation Project demonstrates that congregational involvement is key to a successful confirmation program. Equally important is their discovery of confirmation’s role in revitalizing and re-energizing congregations. Communities that are vitally involved in listening to, being with, and praying for young people in confirmation classes are better able to meet other challenges facing their churches.
8 Planning Questions
A robust and inquisitive confirmation program begins long before the class meets. Below are eight questions that ask the planning team to consider context and purpose as they design a program that encourages lifelong faith.
1. What is your church’s mission statement?
Aligning confirmation with your church’s mission statement will improve its authenticity.
2. What Christian formation programs are offered at your church?
Confirmation should build on the past and prepare young people for the future.
3. What is confirmation?
Read (or re-read) the description of confirmation according to your denomination. For example, in the Episcopal tradition, confirmation is described in the “Pastoral Offices” section of the Book of Common Prayer, beginning on page 412.
4. What are the goals and purpose of your confirmation program?
These should be informed by the mission statement and your church’s unique perspective.
5. What actions fit your goals?
List goals by priority and describe ways to meet each goal.
6. How does your confirmation program fit into overall formation programming?
What are strengths and weaknesses of existing programs? What program comes next?
7. How will the program be structured?
What age group is targeted? How long will the program last? When, where and how often will the group meet?
8. What practical matters need to be considered?
What constraints of time, space, and people will affect the program?
Further Reading on Confirmation
The questions above are taken from an article in the Winter 2017 issue of Episcopal Teacher. This issue focuses on confirmation, with articles by formation professionals, clergy, bishops, and more. Click below to download and read for free.
Dorothy Linthicum, a VTS instructor and program coordinator for the Center for the Ministry of Teaching (CMT), has studied and taught courses and workshops about older adult spirituality and ministry at the seminary, conferences, and dioceses.
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