Why Confirmation?

confirmation

Confirmation Sunday took place recently at my internship congregation. For the non-Lutherans out there, Confirmation is a ceremony that happens for 8th graders. After two years of classes the students stand up in front of the congregation and affirm the promises that were made at their baptism. We had 17 really good 8th graders stand up and we prayed for the power of the Holy Spirit to be stirred up in these awesome people.

However, I have a question that has been bugging me for a while: why do we do confirmation?

jefffoxwory
You might be a Church nerd if confirmation questions keep you up at night (apologies to Jeff Foxworthy)

It’s a genuine question and I don’t really have an answer. The week before confirmation Sunday we gathered all the 8th graders together and asked them questions about their faith and their lives. Finally the question was asked “do you all know why you are doing this?” There were some good answers, but one girl kind of summed up my feelings when she said “I know this is important, but I’m not sure why…” Because I’m not entirely sure what we are trying accomplish with confirmation I asked around and got a variety of answers:

Answer 1: “Confirmation is when you become an adult in the church.”

In a technical sense this has some logic. “confirmed members” are the members that are allowed to vote in congregational meetings and be members of committees. However I have two problems. First, if becoming an adult in the church means gaining the right to sit through the “business” of church then it seems like confirmation is more like a punishment. After all  who wants to sit through congregational meetings.

insomnia
Doctors recommend listening to church budget debates in order to cure insomnia

More importantly though, “becoming an adult in the church” makes it sound like people aren’t really a part of the community until they are confirmed. I just reject that.

Answer 2: “Confirmation is about making spiritually mature Christians”

I guess I get the point, but there have been times in my life when I have felt pretty immature and petulant when it comes to God. Furthermore, some of my favorite characters in scripture are immature and pretty stubborn (for more information see Mark, Gospel of). My real question is this: what counts as “mature Christians?”

Answer 3: “confirmation sometimes feels like graduation from church…”

This was an answer that was more of a critique, but I think that it is worthy mentioning. After all, our confirmation was in the Spring, fancy robes and flowers were involved, there was a public ceremony, and etc… It can sometimes feel like confirmation is the moment when we say to students “OK, this is the last thing you are required to do.”

student loan debt
I wonder what the student loan debt would be after “graduating from church?”

I don’t really have an answer to this problem (if you do please tell me). Perhaps my biggest problem with confirmation is that it seems like we are saying “your baptism is incomplete until 8th grade.” I don’t like that image.

2 comments

  1. I like this one. Interesting point. I will be interested if you get a response.

    How about Baptism is about God’s action and God’s grace. But God always hopes for, works for a response, and because we believe we are a community, not just a bunch of individuals, we expect a response within the community. Confirmation is one opportunity (among others) to have the chance to say publicly, “I intend to live my life in response to the gift of grace in Christ Jesus” It is done after education so that we make the statement understand its meaning and understanding the nature of the community within which we live.

  2. I actually wrote my Educational Ministry project on refocusing Confirmation. I’ve not been impressed with any Confirmation education I’ve seen since before I was confirmed. The program we used on internship was just horrid (see my review: http://ecumenicallife.com/2011/12/12/review-faith-inkubators-head-to-the-heart/). We need to rethink what it is we are trying to do with Confirmation, whether that’s something we should be doing, and what we can do better.

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