Creative Confirmation Class Ideas

For those of you who are youth ministers in mainline churches, you’ve probably been in charge of Confirmation class. I grew up in a Presbyterian church for awhile, but left around middle school (to join the ranks of the Nazarenes for awhile), so I have never had the opportunity to go through Confirmation.

I share the same frustrations that many of you have with confirmation…it is often viewed more as a “graduation” from church for many of the youth who go through it. It’s viewed as this great accomplishment, and then once they’ve been “confirmed” – then they’re free. They’re done. And many times we don’t see them back in church.

Such an odd thing.

I met with our two Confirmation teachers this past week, and we had a good conversation about what is working well, what we could be doing better at, and they are hungry for new, creative ideas and resources for a United Methodist Confirmation class. The Confirmation youth here meet Sunday mornings during the Sunday School hour and go through a Confirmation curriculum for one year. In addition to that, they worship with at a Jewish synagogue to learn about the Jewish roots of our faith, have a lock-in, go on a Confirmation retreat with other youth from our conference, and have a Confirmation Banquet.

It’s a solid program, but they are looking for some new ideas. If you do something that you think is really unique with your Confirmation class, or have heard of other programs that you really respect, please share some of those ideas below.

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Comments

  1. Rob says

    Hey Adam – I’ve been asked to create/lead a confirmation class for our youth this year too. One thing we did in the church I grew up in was to have the youth create banners that hung in the sanctuary on confirmation Sunday. The banners had their names, a Bible reference of their choosing and symbols/images that represented things of importance to the students. The older members really appreciated the banners because it gave them more information about the confirmation class and helped them connect with like-minded folks.

  2. says

    If Confirmation is traditionally understood as an affirmation of baptism, and if in infant baptism parents make certain faith commitments while being surrounded by the promises of God, I think that Confirmation should have an intentional parent/child connection. One church where I worked had a required – REQUIRED – retreat where the student and their parent attended, fostering faith conversations between parent and child, among parents, and among children. It was excellent.

    I’m also a big fan of getting kids into the world … take a scavenger hunt in a local mall, looking for things such as The number of ads/posters/mannequins featuring scantily clad women (vs. the # featuring scantily clad men) (for example) … and then reflect on what you see at the mall in terms of our faith.

    Also, we just took a few of our kids to an urban immersion event to explore issues of homelessness and hunger. It was an excellent experience for our suburban kids ….

  3. says

    We do a mentor-based model for confirmation. We use Willimon’s “Journey to Discipleship” curriculum, but we team up every young person with an adult church member. They meet once a week at a time and location of their choosing and go over the material in the schedule we’ve created for them – that includes the curriculum as well as some “Following Jesus” activities near the end of confirmation. The latter is intended to remind them that it’s not just about believing in Jesus but following him – so they help out at a local homeless shelter, bake cookies and take them to the fire stations in town, etc.

    I can’t say enough good things about the mentor model. While they do have a few group sessions with me as pastor to talk about sacraments and church history, the spend the vast majority of their time with their mentor. We tell our mentors they are not there to answer questions but to journey alongside their young person. It’s wonderful to see these relationship develop and be sustained over the years. It’s also great that the experience is not only life-changing for the confirmand, but the adult as well.

  4. says

    Ropes Courses: take the kids to a low or high ropes course midway through the confirmation experience or towards the end to give them the opportunity to connect with one another at a deeper level and have a real-world experience of what it means to work together as the Body of Christ.

    Exposure to Other Traditions: like your current church’s practice of taking the kids to synagogue, when talking about worship why not take kids to some high-church and low-church sanctuaries (with the pastor or priest’s permission). I have seen kids really start to understand why and how we worship the way we do by considering how Roman Catholics or the local Community Church chooses to engage in worship of God.

    Journey to Discipleship: I have used this resource half a dozen times in a small town small church as well as in a medium sized suburban church and it has been well-received and beneficial. Harvey G. Throop is the author and the curriculum is a survey of the Bible along with subject matter considering what it means to be a church, worship and sacraments, and spiritual disciplines.

  5. Tim says

    see http://www.faithink.com

    what’s unique there is that they are centered around the process of “incubating” faith in every home, every night

    the center is the Faith Five (practiced at home and in confirmation)
    1. share highs/hows (a form of the examen for regular people)
    2. read Scripture
    3. talk about how the Scripture speaks to the highs/lows
    4. pray, giving thanks for the highs, asking for help with the lows
    5. bless each other before turning out the lights

    it’s about equipping households for the process of faith formation

    tim

  6. says

    Mentor models can work well, but make sure the activities aren’t in opposition to any church policies you have designed to prevent child abuse (for example, don’t have a youth and an adult meet one on one in a private place. ever).
    In the past, I have had youth create some form of faith statement–they can either write one, or create one artistically. We’ve seen beautiful paintings, sculptures, and other art pieces come to session meetings. They can’t just put a piece of play dough on the table, of course. It also requires them to interpret their creative works in light of their faith. That can engage kids on many different levels.
    I like the other ideas mentioned and look forward to reading more.

  7. Deanna says

    We incorporate mission so it includes not only learning about their faith but also how to live out their faith…..Our mission projects include “worship on wheels” after church we take worship to the home of a “shut in”, feeding breakfast to the homeless, helping our older member with yard work…we also have them plan and lead a worship service. What ever the church does, we try to involve the kids in as well.

  8. Bridget says

    During the course of the class (ours meets for the whole school year) the class wrote a joint statement of faith. We used that statement during Sunday morning worship the day they were confirmed.

  9. says

    Though we’re a small church and don’t have the opportunity to do this every year, in past I’ve blended my confirmation class and my adult new members class.

    And no, it isn’t just because I’m lazy.

    It’s because I want to say to these young human beings, “Hey, you, you’re not a child anymore. When you take this step, you are becoming a full-fledged member of this church and follower of Jesus. I expect the same things of you as I expect of the older folks who are committing themselves to this ministry.”

  10. says

    What we do that I didn’t hear in your post:
    1. Mentors – each youth is asked for up to 3 church members who they would like as their mentor. Assuming they are acceptable (they usually are), we ask the mentor telling them that they were specifically requested. The confirmands meet with the mentors ideally every other week.
    2. Service retreat – we do a service weekend retreat at Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia in December.
    3. Variety of teachers – just about every class is taught by a different person from the congregation. I’ve taught the unit titled Presbyterian 101 and the unit titled Creeds, Catechisms and Confessions. We get a rabbi friend of our youth director to teach the unit on world religions, usually doing Jewish-style scripture interpretation.
    4. Ceremony – after the Session meeting where the confirmands are received, we have a special prayer ceremony recognizing each confirmand and their special gift.

  11. says

    All these comments seem to point at what we do, too, which is , action. I don’t know that our curriculum is particularly amazing, but we do get teens saying they learned a lot, so I suppose that’s a win.

    We teach them to make communion bread all the while talking about community.
    We do lectio divina (or artio divina, as I call it) with a part of the Christmas story and paint and canvases.
    We watch movies like The Mission and clips from Buffy, Firefly, Lord of the Rings, etc.
    We do scavenger hunts.
    We ask hard questions about how the scriptures got to us and don’t answer them for the kids.
    We spend time with them, which I think is the most important of all. Just chatting, asking about their lives, taking them seriously.

    We also make a big point to the teens and their parents that, if they’re not feeling it, if they’re not ready to be confirmed, don’t.

    • Pastor Sam says

      A friend of mine just wrote her STM thesis on religious themes in Buffy, Firefly, LOTR, etc. So glad to hear others are seeing the value of these things as well!!

  12. Islandrev says

    This is a great “accidental” find!!
    I usually encourage youth to work out some of the “burning” questions that they have, by that I mean the questions that is most likely to keep them from being a really active christian- we let it boil sometimes. Generally they are very grateful and the good news is that we have brought many many persons into a full active church life. These are the adults who come back and say how good it was in their “good old days”.

  13. Jamie Richards says

    In the denomination that I work with [the ELCA], the term “confirmation” was thrown out about 20 years ago under the recognition that it conveyed a sense of graduation, just like you mention in your post. Everything about the process from the it’s-a-class-to-complete mentality to the etymology of the word screams GRADUATION! The term the ELCA replaced in “confirmation”‘s place is the term “Affirmation of Baptism”.

    In the congregations I work with, our Affirmation of Baptism isn’t a class: it’s a 3 year discipleship process focusing on the Bible, yes, but also relationships and mentoring.

    I’ll break it down as succinctly as possible:

    Starting in 7th grade, youth attend our youth night for 7th and 8th graders. It consists of *games [relationship building.... also, kids love to push against something. So we give them team competitions so the leaders aren't the object of kid's negative energy],
    *Biblical teaching time, and
    *small groups. The small groups are led by a team of trained high school youth

    The 7th and 8th graders are each, as a class, required to the following:
    *complete a certain amount of service hours
    *attend the middle school youth night to a certain degree
    *attend retreats

    Then in 9th grade, the final year of the process, the students are asked to attend a high school youth night [we have 2] and finish up their service hours, as well as attend the 9th grade retreat and the all-ages student retreat.

    It sounds like a lot on paper, but what you don’t see between these lines are the incredible relationships that usually [I wish I could say ALWAYS!] form from all of these interactions. It’s the relationships with other youth, older youth, and adults [when they get to high school]. Those relationships are what keep them around in high school…. where they can hopefully get plugged into a ministry team or other service opportunities.

    Ultimately: we’ve changed our language from “confirmation” language to “commissioning” language. Now that these kids are affirming their baptism, they are being commissioned into service.

    I know it’s a long process….. but it’s working far better than anything I’ve seen or experienced elsewhere.

    Blessings on your journey!

  14. says

    Check out Church of the Resurrection’s Confirmation process http://www.cor.org/ministries

    I too have done what many of you talk about (lessons, worship attendance, retreats, service hours in and out of church, Jewish shabbot service) but I am ready for a totally new approach. I like this one because it :
    1. offers options for those who are not ready for this commitment in 8th grade or who come to our church older than 8th grade.
    2. is 10 weeks with two options to engage the process per year
    3. has a bottom line of expectations for being confirmed yet is grace filled
    4. has work that is done at home – I need to check this out but hopefully it engages the parents too

    God’s blessings!

  15. says

    Our confirmation program is a two-year process, generally completed in 7th & 8th grade. We start the year with an overnight retreat at a Boy Scout camp. They do low and then high ropes the first day, as well as other team-building activities. In the evening, I speak with them about the expectations we have for them and they have for us. Then, we have a hands-on worship service, with a bonfire following. In the morning, they do a zipline canopy tour and then we return home.

    The actual Confirmation year includes hour-long classes most Sundays, focused on the UCC curriculum “Affirming Faith” and the re:form curriculum. I alternate weeks with these resources, as the UCC book is fairly serious and re:form is more playful. We also visit other houses of worship, including those of other Christian denominations (or non-denominational churches) from Friends Meeting to Greek Orthodox to African-American Baptist & even other UCC churches with different worship styles, but also a synagogue, a mosque, a Hindu temple, a Buddhist center and a Unitarian fellowship.

    Each student has a mentor for the two years. Mentors meet with students both one-on-one (but following our Safe Church policy) and joining in with group activities. For example, this weekend, mentors and students will sit together at our Fall kick-off picnic and they are invited to join us for our outing to the Greek Festival and tour of the Greek Orthodox church. Mentors sometimes join students in working on the three service projects they are expected to complete each year, as well as working with 8th graders on their faith statements.

    At the end of the Confirmation year, all the students and their families & mentors, as well as any congregation members who wish, are invited to the Confirmation Dinner. After dinner, the 8th graders read their faith statements and are offered blessings by their parents. We practice for the rite of confirmation and try on robes before they go home. On Confirmation Sunday, all the 8th graders who have chosen to be confirmed go through the rite and receive adult bibles.

    Usually a week or two after Confirmation Sunday, we take the kids on a week-long pilgrimage to Atlanta or St. Louis/Memphis, alternating years. On the pilgrimage, the students learn about the intersection of faith/justice/service/history through participation in mission work, learning opportunities (Habitat for Humanity global village, MLK historical sites, Underground Railroad experiences, seminary visits, etc) and so forth. Finally, toward the end of the summer, we hold a luncheon for everyone who contributed financially to the pilgrimage. At this luncheon, the kids share stories & photos of their journey.

    Our senior pastor is also getting ready to launch an adult “confirmation” class using the UCC curriculum for folks who have never gone through Confirmation, went through in a different denomination or simply don’t feel their confirmation process taught them as much as they want to know. This will be much shorter, of course, only 8 weeks, with no retreats or trips or service projects.

  16. samantha says

    In addition to what many of you posted I have my youth pick a scripture that means something to them (that they use on their banner for confirmation Sunday) and preach on it. It’s usually only a 3-5 minute mini-sermon but the congregation gets to know and hear the faith of the youth and the youth get to experience the fullness of their faith by saying what it is they believe out loud. It’s always a scary thing for the youth but four straight classes have made it through and that’s the most memorable part of the class for most of them.
    In case you decide to do this I usually give the students about 3 weeks to write a rough draft, I read it and give them some constructive remarks and help to guide them in ways they can ‘bulk’ their sermon up a bit. Then they have a week to tweak it before their mentor reads through it with them and gives them some insight. After that they can change what they want if they choose.

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