What is confirmation for? Keeping the feast

One of the things that concerns me about confirmation the way we do it in the church is that we want it to do everything. It seems to me we want to stuff as much information, spiritual preparation, social justice, and general goodness with an overlay of denominational cheerleading into every session. My hunch is that we do that because we figure this is our one shot. The question I'm asking myself is, "Well, what if it is? What do we really want confirmation preparation to do?"

I am concerned that if we try to make confirmation do everything, all we're going to succeed in doing is making people think Christian Formation is being force-fed every dish on the Thanksgiving buffet. Even if the dishes are delicious, you're still going to be sick. And chances are you're not going to want to eat any of it again for a long time.

What if the goal of confirmation preparation wasn't to make sure those being confirmed have everything they need, but to make them hungry for more? What if we wanted them to return to the buffet again and again year after year?

The fact is there is far more to share than we can possible digest in a brief period of preparation for confirmation. Christian history, spiritual practices, theology, Scripture: there's so much good stuff it's hard to know even where to begin. But just because there is an abundance doesn't mean everyone is required to eat everything all at once. We wouldn't invite someone to Thanksgiving dinner and say, "Eat this whole turkey! Now the green beans! Don't forget the mince pie! Oh, there's pumpkin, too!" Doing so is hostile, not hospitable. 

But what if they never come again, you ask? Here's the thing: our job is to invite, to set the table, to offer the food. We can bring out the old family recipes or try new ones. We can recommend a dish to sample and ask what people think. But you're not going to get everything in. You're just not. Stop trying. Save the leftovers and send them home with the guests. Maybe they'll eat them. Maybe they'll stay in the back of the refrigerator. That's not up to us.

I suspect, however, that people are more likely to return for another dinner if they don't worry that they're going to be sick afterwards. Be hospitable and make confirmation classes as delicious as possible. I suspect if we do so, people will come for - and with - Thanksgiving year after year.

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