“When congregations approach confirmation assuming it has positive, lasting value, and focus on developmentally sound processes to prepare confirmands to make a decision that has real consequences, confirmation matters.”Dr. Lisa Kimball, “Building Base Camps” in Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Theologies of Confirmation for the 21st Century (Morehouse Publishing, 2014), 134.
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"The point is to spend time contemplating our one wild and precious life, especially as individuals, but also as individuals in the community gathered. Where and when have our lives seems to have been most in tune with these vows, and where and when to and why? How do we make these vows make sense in the mystery of our lives that is still undiscovered territory? We matter. Our lives matter. Our lives in Christ matter. The process of Confirmation, or for the allied rites, is a ripe time, it seems to me, for rediscovering what that means."
Vicki Garvey, “Contemplating Our 'One Wild and Precious Life’” in Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Theologies of Confirmation for the 21st Century (Morehouse Publishing, 2014), 78.
In addition to its national survey, researchers from The Confirmation Project visited congregations, using the research method of Portraiture to understand how confirmation and equivalent practices are practiced in congregations. The following congregations and dioceses were visited from the Episcopal Church as well as some from other denominations that exemplify many best practices. Read about their story. How might you adapt some of their practices for your own context?
Mentors and Intergenerational Community Involvement
As people of the incarnation, we learn to claim our discipleship by watching those who came before us claim theirs. This involves careful selection, training, support, and accountability.
Listen to Kate Harmon Silberine in this webinar (recorded May 2016 at part of The Confirmation Project) as she explores the theological and developmental need for intergenerational mentoring in youth confirmation. She also offers some best practices to implement a program in your church.
Bishops and Diocesan Programs
Including youth events and summer camp - are important pieces of building relationships beyond the local congregation for any confirmation program.
- What if every diocese offered a Confirmation Camp like the Diocese of Southern Ohio?
- “Confirmation Camp in the Episcopal Church” by Jacob Sorenson
- “Confirmands Who Get It” by The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Lee, Jr.
- “Walk Beside Me: Christian Education at Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center in Oregon, Illinois” (Presbyterian Church USA) by Jacob Sorenson
Service & Mission
St. Augustine once wrote: “Formation for discipleship and mission is essential; practicing how we live out our faith, by ‘being a vehicle of Christ’s love.’” Offering opportunities to put faith into action are important elements of confirmation preparation and can continue long after any program concludes, allowing all ages to continue to be Christ’s hands, feet, and voice in the world. Here are just a few examples how service and mission can be a part of any confirmation program.
- Service Projects Ideas
- “Love and Serve: A Youth Group Learns Compassion in Visiting Aging Adults” by Roberta Ingersoll
- “Virtual Mission Camp” by Vicki Zust
- “How to Design a Mission Trip Project” by BuildFaith Editors
Formation Practices and Strategies
Lecture-style confirmation preparation is not effective in the 21st century. Experiential learning and creative avenues that allow youth to try-on new practices, meet new people, talk about their faith, and integrate faith in daily life are essential. Here is a sample of best practices:
- “Harry Potter and Confirmation” by Patricia Lyons. A great reflection about our world today in terms of how important faith formation and the impact confirmation could and should have on young people - from a Harry Potter viewpoint!
- “The Great Thanksgiving Listen” is a great activity for youth and mentors - or youth going to a family Thanksgiving gathering.
- “6 Fresh Ways to Teach Liturgy with Teens” by Kristin Saylor. An interesting post about engaging youth in liturgy, especially during Confirmation preparation.
- "A One Day Youth Confirmation Retreat” by Kari Robinson
- Youth Activism from Search Institute. "When adults support young people as they organize to create social change, they are sharing power, one of the five elements of a developmental relationship."
- “Breaking The Chains: A Confirmation Lesson On Forgiveness” by Keith Anderson
- “Burning Palms To Ashes With The Confirmation Class” by Beth A. Richardson
- Our New Confirmation Class: “Create Dignity” by Stephen Rozelle
- Saint Clement’s Episcopal Church, Alexandria, VA: “Carpe Sacramentum! Parish-Wide Formation For Confirmation, Reception, And Renewal Of Vows” by Lisa Kimball
- “Minecraft Catechism” by Clint Schnekloth (this article is from The Christian Century, so may need a subscription to access)