Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Confirmation Changes (Catchy Title, huh!)

This is going to contain 3 things. 1) I’m going to start by laying out the details of confirmation. I would typically start with the why, but I want to be sure you see that first. 2) Why we are changing it. 3) What we need from you. I am going to give people three “public” opportunities to meet with myself to discuss these changes. 

Tonight I will be at FLC in the Fireside room to talk about it with anyone that is interested. I’m planning on 30 minutes so I can see the end of the boys soccer game tonight. Tomorrow night at 7pm in the Upper Room (waaaaaaaay upstairs), and after worship on June at around 10:15 a.m. in the Upper Room. (Worship changes that Sunday to 9am).

Here is the “what".
  • 6 weeks total.
    • People will meet 6 consecutive Wednesday evenings from 6:15-7:15 p.m.
    • Each evening will have a different focus, having a mentor meeting with the student in both a large and small group setting.
    • The focus will be on what it means to make a public affirmation of faith including one evening talking through baptismal promises, Lutheran theology, helping people write a statement of faith, and what it means to be a part of the church.
    • At the end of the 6 weeks participants will write their own faith statement and have a chance to share those papers with others at a gathering prior to the confirmation service. 
  • Confirmation will be offered 2 times per year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
    • This coming fall, we will only be confirming our current 9th grade students as would typically happen.
    • The first “open” confirmation class will begin early spring 2020.
  • There will be NO age attached to it.
    • When a student and their parents/guardians feel they are ready they will sign up with the pastors and Adrian.

Sunday mornings are changing too. Since there will be not confirmation on Sunday mornings, we will be offering Orange for kids starting from birth to 12th grade. I am a HUGE fan of Orange. I’m not going to focus on it currently - but as of right now - the set up will be groups for 0-3 years old, pre-k, kindergarten-3 grade, 4-6 grade, 7-8 grade, and 9-12 grade. That may change slightly, but that is approximately where things are as of now. We will also be having Youth Group offered from both 6-8 grade and high school students at a separate time.

Here is the “why”.

I’ve been involved in student ministry/faith formation for about 25 years, My experience includes working as a camp counselor at Ewalu, interning at a huge church in the cities, my first youth director gig in Milwaukee, program director at Ewalu, and for the past 14 years as your Director of Youth and Family Ministry at FLC. In my time, there have been a lot of changes. What hasn’t changed? The need for people to hear about the life giving news of Jesus. What has changed is the how as a church we look to pass the faith along to the next generation. I mean, that’s the goal, right? To have students who have a faith that is relevant to their lives and makes a difference. 

If the goal is a faith that matters - jumping into a two year program isn’t necessarily the answer. Here are some fun stats. Per year - students involved in church spend about 70-100 hrs per year there. Students spend about 70 hours at camp. They spend 400-600 hours with their parents. 16-1800 hours are spent at school. Online? Students spend an average of 2000-3000 hours online per year.

Let me be clear, what I am really saying is “confirmation” is changing to something that we are starting when somebody first walks through the door at FLC.

When a baby, student or adult walks through that door, they should immediately feel as if they matter. That’s when faith formation (on the churches side) begins. If the goal is to have students in a place where they feel led to make a public affirmation of their faith, then that’s what our focus needs to be on. This means on the churches end, doing the best we can with the time we have. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how we best use the time we have.

Parents - this is NOT a “guilt” email. This is a reality one. I have 2 kids. I know schedules can be hectic. Most families can’t do church every week. I get it. So on my end, I promise that I will try my best to do the best for your students when they are here. I promise to do our best to make faith something that will stick with them when crap happens. To give them hope when they need it. To know they are loved and valued, not matter what, no strings attached.

As far as the “age” aspect, I honestly think this is a no brainer. With something as personal as faith, should we really be telling people when it’s time to affirm their faith? I have a student who has chosen not to do confirmation. I completely respect that! They are being honest as to where they are. So why make them feel that this is their only shot? I have 6th grade students who I believe would be more than capable of standing in front of a group with integrity, and telling people this is what they believe. It’s important to remember that Jesus died on the cross and rose again. I bring this up so that you understand confirmation in 10th grade is not a salvation issue. Jesus has taken care of that. We want students to come forward when they feel they are ready, not when we tell them they “should” be ready. Honestly - the hope is that we can expand this so it includes adults who want to affirm their faith as well. The idea is when it comes time for a “new” class, people on their own will sign up.

Ok - so there you go. I will be honest - I am simultaneously horrified and excited. This is a change. One I believe is needed and one that I believe is going to be good for the church.

Please, if you have questions - write me, talk to me, come tonight or tomorrow night. I’m always up for coffee. The reality is, we are in partnership. We both want what’s best for our students. Please remember - what we do Sunday mornings and nights, Wednesday evenings, etc., we are doing our best to support you. We are for you as a parent and want what’s best for your family.

In Christ’s Service,

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