I have been avidly following the results from the Confirmation Project’s study of confirmation and related practices, which have all been fascinating – and affirming for us here at Confirm not Conform!
One of the things they note is that relationships are a key element in the learning environment of an effective confirmation program. “While curriculum and classroom learning was present, the web of relationships nurtured among confirmands, between confirmands and adults, and between confirmands and the congregation as a whole provided the dynamism for confirmation and was what impacted youth most beyond the classroom.”
Absolutely! One of the things that is crucial to the success of Confirm not Conform – or any curriculum, not just confirmation, in my opinion – is that it’s not just about learning stuff. It’s not just about conveying information to youth and making sure they’ve understood. It’s about those relationships: between youth and mentors, between the youth and church leadership, and between youth and the whole congregation.
We talk a lot about how Confirm not Conform is actually a congregational development program. One of its main goals is to ensure that youth know they are part of the church – and, perhaps more importantly, to ensure that the adult membership know it too. We want youth to be visible and known. We want their voices to be heard. We want their insights and contributions recognized. Those relationships are not just about having a great confirmation program; it’s about having a great church, where everyone’s gifts are brought to share and help us to feed the multitudes.