Preparation for confirmation is a huge part of working with the next generation in the Catholic Church. It’s the greatest potential to unleash disciples and it can be the biggest headache too.
Often I hear the frustration and even resentment when I talk to other youth ministers and DRE’s when it comes to confirmation preparation. And we wonder why?
IT’S BECAUSE IT’S PERSONAL
It’s also a burden to some and a mystery to others. But, it’s something you cannot avoid. If you avoid it it will only grow and become an obstacle to your youth ministry’s growth.
Instead of avoiding and resenting preparation, start looking at changing it. And to create change (While abiding by church guidelines) look at changing the culture that surrounds it by:
WORKING ON A FOUNDATION
Before you can build a healthy confirmation program you need to have a healthy youth ministry. A healthy youth ministry separate from confirmation preparation is a place for teens to grow before and after receiving the Sacrament.
To build a healthy program you need to invest resources and time into it. Much of this is laid out in my book Rebuilding Youth Ministry. But, have a conversation with your pastor on what this can look like.
MAKE IT RELATIONAL
Lets face it, the classroom model for confirmation no longer works. Teenagers are in classrooms 5 days a week for hours and they need a break. The way to make confirmation more relational is to build small groups.
What should these groups look like?
- Keep Them Small: I recommend about 6-8 teens with two leaders. If you can only get one adult per group keep them around 3-4.
- Separate The Sexes: You can only go so deep with someone of the opposite sex. Not only that but you’ll keep hormones at bay.
- Create Casual Environments: Take away the desks and hard chairs. Try to find places in your church that are relaxed and get rid of the stigma that they are in school.
Ideally, confirmation should be done in a mentoring style, with 1 on 1 relationships. But, start with small groups and work towards those ratios (See your diocesan guidelines about child protection first.)
CHALLENGE PARENTS APPROPRIATELY
Everyone is busy. Remind yourself that time is the largest obstacle to parents wanting to get involved. They do care about their teen’s faith formation it’s just they have a hard time figuring out how to approach it.
Challenge parents to grow by connecting them into opportunities that are already a part of the church’s culture. Get them involved in the weekend, if you have small groups get them plugged in. Talk with your pastor about ways that adults can grow alongside of their teens.
CAST VISION AND STAY STRONG
Changing the culture of confirmation takes time and constant communication. You need to constantly remind people why this sacrament is important. Provide opportunities to educate and encourage people to look at it differently.
When you start treating confirmation more than an obligation that you are required to do, others will follow. Stay persistent and keep working at it. Not only will you find peace, but you will see disciples going and grow deeper like never before.
Question: How are you working to change the paradigm of Confirmation? Do you disagree with anything that I’ve shared? You can leave a comment by clicking here.