It’s the greatest potential to unleash disciples and it can be the biggest headache too. Preparation for confirmation is an opportunity to helping the next generation go deeper; however, it’s too often treated like a graduation.
Instead of seeing it as a next step in a relationship with God it’s seen as the end to a complicated requirement in religious education. You and I know it needs to be more, but that isn’t always clear. And that’s because we need to:
START WITH THE BIG QUESTION: WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
You know the answer but the problem comes when you assume others do too. People will struggle to reach your expectations if you don’t clarify for them why receiving the Sacrament matters.
Make sure that you give candidates and their parents the opportunity to answer and discuss the question. This can be done during the:
Before people apply to the preparation hold a meeting for parents and teens where you not only discuss the logistics (i.e. dates, etc.) but give people an opportunity to share their:
- Intentions behind taking this step.
- Fears of what this requires.
- Desired outcome to going through the process.
It’s during this time when you can help them approach preparation with a different perspective. This is your opportunity to change the mindset from WE HAVE TO DO THIS to WE GET TO DO THIS.
Are you just collecting contact info or are you making enrollment a process that helps them discern this next step? Give them the opportunity to share with you the why behind their decision. You can do this by having them answer these two questions on their application:
- What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ?
- What is one area of your life you are hoping this process will change?
Not only will it help them process their decision but it will give you information on where they are when they are starting this journey.
CHANGE THE SETTING
Another reason preparation has grown complex is because it’s treated like a graduate course. The goal is not to help them graduate with a wealth of knowledge but to show them the tools to continuously develop a heart for Christ. To facilitate that growth:
CONNECT THEM WITH LIKE MINDED ROLE MODELS
Your catechists and volunteers do not need to be theologians, but men and women who are passionate about their faith. These are people who not only have a story to share but the capacity to listen.
To find the right people look at the individuals who are already involved in your church. Make note of the men and women you feel display a Christ-like life. Invite them into a conversation where you can discuss the impact they can have on the next generation’s faith journey.
MOVE FROM TEXTBOOKS TO TOOLS
The next generation is constantly being inundated with information. While it’s important that they have that information giving it to them in a classroom setting doesn’t always work.
Set up the experience to be more relational through small groups and mentoring. Instead of giving them lists to memorize introduce them to habits (i.e. daily prayer, tithing) that will enhance their relationship with God. In the end, it’s not just telling them what they need to know but showing them too.
There is a conversation that is needed when it comes to how we approach preparation for Confirmation. That’s why I’m so excited about my newest book REBUILDING CONFIRMATION (Ave Maria Press 2017). It’s a book that challenges us to approach preparation differently. Don’t be afraid to get the conversation going at your parish on how preparation for Confirmation SHOULD BE and COULD BE differently.
Question: How do you need to look at Confirmation preparation differently? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
To pre-order your copy of REBUILDING CONFIRMATION (Ave Maria Press) click the button below: