— Michael Beckmann (@mbeckmann001) October 16, 2012
As I continue to reflect on the You Lost Me Live event, my next “Unpacking the Tweets” entry will be on this statement. Not too long ago I attended another conversation surrounding our tradition of Confirmation. This event was hosted by First Third from Luther Seminary. It was called Monkey Business, which is what Martin Luther called the process.
With all of the research coming out about “Nones” and how the young adult generation is not engaging with the Church, Confirmation within the Lutheran Church seems to be a good starting place to think differently. Over the years, Confirmation has taken on many different roles, both for the congregations as well as the families involved. More so than ever, we can point to many things within confirmation which resemble a graduation ceremony.
Robes, pictures, flowers, and parties all surround the event of “Affirmation of Baptism”, when our youth are taking the promises their parents made when they were baptized and say “I do and I ask God to help and guide me.” There is no doubt the Spirit is at play in these lives on this day, this is not my point. I believe the Spirit plays a large part in our daily lives and we sometimes are not aware of it.
How do we continue doing confirmation in a way many of our youth will never darken the church doors again, because there is a disconnect? (AGAIN, studies show we can no longer expect them to come back to the church when they get married (getting married later in life), or come back when the have children (having children later in life)).
So back to the tweet. Is confirmation the process of getting as many youth through a process of faith in which we can put a stamp on them as confirmed? How do we make the Confirmation journey something of which we can meet youth and families where they are at in their own faith journey. At Monkey Business, this was talked about as having an Individual Education Plan for every youth and family in our ministry. This would be crazy, yes, but how can we make this process more like and IEP? How can we build in flexibility and grace into this ministry setting? And I don’t mean giving youth more options to complete requirements, I mean really listening for where they are at and meeting them in whatever that looks like. No really, think about what that would look like…
Confirmation is part of the journey of faith we are all on, but for myself this journey seems like more jumping through hoops and an obstacle course to “get through”, than it is an adventurous journey where we rejoice in our gifts and continue to look for where God is moving in our lives.
What if we used confirmation as a time where kids not only learn about the Small Catechism, but also about how they play a role in God’s Kingdom, here today, not in some far off place when we die. What if we took each youth as they come and said you’re passionate about art, show me how you would describe God with a painting. You like to write, write a poem or story about how Grace is present in your life through the people around you. You have a question about God, draw me a picture and explain it to me. The list could go on and on.
I’m trying not to be too cynical, I know my posts sometimes can be, but as I watched many of the youth in our ministry on Sunday, my heart was breaking. It was breaking because I believe for many of them, they will struggle to connect again to the beautiful story of God’s love for us, they will struggle to look at the church and be inspired to help other people. This breaks my heart. I’m looking forward to where God pulls on my heart to continue the process of change.
Do you believe there is a disconnect between faith and Confirmation? If so, what are things you are doing to reconnect the two?