For many years, throughout many different Christian denominations, many a board meeting contained discussions concerning our teens and young adults…. “how do we keep them?” … ”where are they?” The Moravian church is no different. We seem to lose our youth after Confirmation. If we’re lucky we may see them on Easter and Christmas, we pray they will return to us after college or once starting a family. According to Barna research, only 40% of our youth will return to the church… a sad figure indeed.
Mirriam Webster defines confirmation as : a(1) : a Christian rite conferring the gift of the Holy Spirit and among Protestants full church membership.I think that sometimes, we, as church members and staff, get caught up in the church membership part of that definition. We sometimes make Confirmation a rite of passage, a graduation of sorts. Many times, our youth become confirmed only to appease a parent or grandparent. Then we have a big ceremony, complete with cake and gifts and tell them “Congratulations! You did it!” But like a graduation, they feel they are done…finished…finished with Sunday school, finished with learning the Moravian traditions, finished with learning scripture. We forget the part of the definition that calls for us to “confer the gift of the Holy Spirit” upon them. Confirmation is after all, not the end, but the beginning. The beginning of a journey of faith. A journey in which they embark upon on their own, in which they have said “Yes! I want to become a follower of Christ!”
Let’s ask our youth questions about what they would like to see happen in the Confirmation process. Let’s show them what living out a life of faith looks like. Let’s get our families involved in this process, help them to understand how important they are in their child’s spiritual formation. Let them see that Confirmation is not the end… yet only a beginning. The beginning of a lifelong journey, that has bumps and detours, but it is a journey they are not on alone.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
By Kathy Sofie, Director of Christian Education, Palmer Moravian Church