Wrapping up some Monkey Business
By Dr. Nancy Going, Director of Children, Youth and Family Distributed Learning Program at Luther Seminary
The answer when it comes to what to do about Confirmation might not be what you think. It’s harder. But it’s better.
And the stories are starting to come back. People who attended the FirstThird Dialogue on the Monkey Business of confirmation are working on creating change across the church. They are no longer willing to ignore the fact that we are losing 80% or more of our young people to the church once they re-affirm their baptism.
Beyond Technical Changes to Confirmation
We’re hearing stories about people now noticing their own temptations to create technical fixes—the kinds of changes that we’ve majored in with the confirmation process for years--as if more or fewer sermon notes, robes or no robes, faith statements or faith stories is going to keep kids beyond the confirmation event.
We’re heard the story of a synod who has a group of committed leaders—youth ministry practicioners and pastors meeting monthly to focus on and support one another in the kinds of big picture changes that need to happen in their churches.
Freedom to Let Go
And we’re also hearing stories of new-found freedom to let go of what is not working. One pastor told me, “I just let go of my, ‘they have to absorb all this information’ mentality” with the kids she was working with. She is still teaching, but now makes sure that her relationships with them and their relationships with the congregation are front and center to the confirmation process.
What will make a difference?
The hard thing is that no curriculum change and no ready-made program is going to make the difference here. That’s the part that’s harder.
But the part that’s better, is that we DO KNOW what will:
- Congregations who nurture the spiritual lives of young people.
- Congregations that are web of intergenerational relationships.
- Young people who have experienced grace first hand.
- Congregations that help parents become the primary apostles and teachers of the faith.
- Congregations that follow youth into a missional reality.
Thanks to all of you who are willing to go there…..