I have a confession to make: I never went through a Confirmation class.
When I was 14, I walked down the aisle of my Baptist church, pow-wowed with Jesus at the altar, and told my pastor that I wanted to be baptized. After taking a dip in the pool, I was all set. When I became Presbyterian, I joined a small church without a formal Confirmation process. I suppose the leadership didn’t want to expend the extra effort in creating a new program for their only college-age communicant. So, they asked me a few questions, noted that I was already studying for a Bible and Religion degree, and voted to confirm me.
You might be surprised to hear that I am genuinely thankful for the atypical trajectory of my Confirmation journey. Something about foregone conclusions has always rubbed me the wrong way. The idea that some pastor can mark the date on which I am supposed to make a life-changing decision to follow Christ strikes me as insincere. I am comforted by the knowledge that I came to discipleship at the Spirit’s behest, rather than because someone expected me to do so.
Nevertheless, serving as a pastor who is responsible for a Confirmation program has caused me to ask this question: Did I miss out on something special by not going through the process?
When I reflect on the journey that our Confirmands have taken together over the past nine months, I’m compelled to answer, yes! Our program is extraordinary; we invite youth to explore their faith through a creative curriculum, hang out together on a fun retreat, memorize the Apostle’s Creed and develop their very own Disciple Project. Perhaps more importantly, all of our efforts are centered around the goal of creating a safe space for youth to build relationships with their true selves, with one another, and with God.
No one at BMPC takes the Confirmation journey alone! Throughout the year, each eighth grader is surrounded by their families, mentors, confirmation teachers, and pastors who genuinely care about their well-being. Our young folks have countless opportunities to explore their faith in a safe and supportive environment devoid of foregone conclusions and open to new possibilities for belief and practice.
This Sunday, May 12, our eighth graders will present their Disciple Projects in the gym following the 10 a.m. worship service. I invite you to take your role as members of their spiritual family seriously. Listen to their stories. Hear about their projects. Affirm their desire to take up the baptismal covenant as they launch into the faith-filled future that God has in store for them.
When Confirmation Sunday arrives on May 19, we’ll make a Confirmation confession together. No matter how old or young we are, regardless of how we got here, we’ll all be able to affirm that we are disciples of the same Jesus Christ.