First Third Conversations

Confirmation: What are we doing?

By Dr. Nancy Going, Director of Children, Youth and Family Distributed Learning Program at Luther Seminary

Let’s take one more stab at the question related to the confirmation process. 

Think about all the time and energy we spend in churches working to get the confirmation program just right.  And the results of all that work are in:  Over 80% of ELCA churches are losing 50-75% of their confirmands after the rite. 

But now think about how your own faith has been formed.  Do you remember a single curriculum where the curriculum itself had a huge impact on your life of faith? 

That’s a different thing than people and what they taught having an impact. 

I was meeting with my friend and colleague, John Roberto to talk about how to help churches that were really struggling to pull off a Sunday School figure out a system for faith formation to put in its place.  I started asking about curriculum, and he said the words that opened it all up for me.  “It doesn’t matter.”

There is a huge difference between education and spiritual formation.  Our churches have focused the confirmation process on the former.  What if we just used the process as a step in the latter?  And can you imagine learning to genuinely LOVE Jesus, and not wanting to learn about Jesus? What if we focused all our time and energy on the spiritual formation of young people?  We know how that happens.  Let’s make THAT what we’re doing.  

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