Confirmation Questions & Controversy

I spoke this past Sunday at Lakepoint Church, amongst other things, on the value of tradition as a formative source of our faith.  It went over well and served its purpose – bringing some unity between those from traditional mainline church back grounds, contemporary evangelical church backgrounds, and those from non-church backgrounds.

One of my illustrations however stirred up some unexpected controversy – confirmation.  I suggested that, “We’d like to try something like confirmation at Lakepoint.  We’re not sure exactly what that would look like for us, but we’d like to explore it.”

Some absolutely loved the thought of a confirmation class.  In fact, some families confided that weekly communion and adolescent confirmation were so meaningful to their backgrounds, that they can’t imagine being a part of a church that didn’t practice as such.  Since we are/will, they’re all in for making Lakepoint their home.

Others were rather put off by the idea of confirmation.  Perhaps because it implies infant baptism (Lakepoint practices infant dedication, and saves baptism for a conscious age), or maybe more so because they are carrying negative impressions from their experiences surrounding confirmation (I suspect the comments were based on the later more than the former).

At any rate, I’d love some help in clearing the air.  If you love the idea of a Christian Confirmation Class, what from your experiences have solidified that value?  If you’re not a fan of the idea, what have you seen or heard that raised concerns for you?

Forms and titles may be up for debate, but regardless of church background, I’d like to think that there would be value in some sort of “faith foundations” experience, with a voluntary call to act on and personalize your faith, at a formative adolescent age… heck, maybe this would be good to open to all ages.

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7 responses to “Confirmation Questions & Controversy

  1. Hi Brian
    I will put some thoughtful consideration and prayer into this topic. My faith journey includes a memorable confirmation experience and to which I gained a life long friend who to this day is my best friend in life and. Faith. Having been baptized at Brooklife, I embrace that experience as well. Much to ponder!

  2. I had both a great and awful confirmation experience. Awful in that the kids were cliquey and not very nice to me, but great in that I really connected with my pastor and learned what my faith, specifically prayer, was all about. All of this at a time when most kids are struggling with making good decisions and asking heavy questions (8-9th grades). It then led me to *eventually* declare my faith publicly in baptism some 10 years later.

  3. I have to say I am on the other side of this one. Our children will be receiving foundations of their faith through their Sunday school and student groups. That is their teaching on our faith. This is where they make long and meaningful relationships with adults and other kids.. I have always been disturbed by confirmation because it is a rite of passage rather than an expression of or voluntary seeking of a deeper relationship with God. Class is never going to do that. Relationships and God do that. I LOVE the idea of a foundations of faith class that is for anyone, adult or child) who wants to learn more about God or the history of the church but it needs to be when there is a desire rather than an obligation to learn more. Baptism is the expression we have to tother that we have taken a step of faith not getting through confirmation. I know so many people that they went through confirmation as an adolescent and learned nothing but they did it for the party they received. I love tradition for many things and participate in some where I feel I gain a deeper relationship or understanding of Biblical history, ie. Passover dinner, Christmas services, fasting just to name a few. Maybe I am just reading too much into the sermon, but I have been really struggling with the idea of having confirmation at Lakepoint.

  4. Brian,

    While I’m an outsider at Lakepoint, I do think that the concept of what you are trying to do is worth considering. J. I. Packer and Tim Keller have both been working on efforts to restore and appropriate place for catechesis in the church in North America. You could take a look at Packer’s recent book (with Gary Parrett) “Grounded in the Gospel” as well as Keller’s work in development of “The New City Catechesim” which is available online and as an app: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/ncc/.

    At the same time, i would probably avoid words like ‘confirmation’ which conjure up too many ideas in people’s minds because of past backgrounds in Lutheran or Roman Catholic settings that were not life-giving to them. Perhaps a different wording with clear purpose would help.

    Peace to you. I always hear such great things about Lakepoint!

  5. Thanks for the comments everyone. I think the harmony that is emerging is 1) we shouldn’t call it “confirmation” because what we’re considering doesn’t live up to the meaning traditionally ascribed to that word, and 2) baptism is the only faith-solidifying voluntary act that we need to lean into “ceremony” wise.

    Looking forward to additional comments and thoughts as well.

  6. Brian,
    Thanks for sharing this. (Matt, thanks for sharing the ncc link). I have just started doing catechesis with one of my sons and it’s been really great for both of us. He wasn’t into youth group. I said, “Okay, but you have to do something.” He responded, “What I’d really like is to meet with you and learn the basics of the faith.” I think Matt’s right: avoid the emotional baggage of repellant terms but draw on the rich heritage of the church’s accumulated wisdom for life and worship.

  7. Really cool that you’re able to do this with your son Steve!

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