Recently, we here at CnC have discovered that some CnC parishes are planning to skip the iConfirm service – they’re having a confirmation service, and feel that’s service enough.
It isn’t even close.
In fact, to be honest, we were horrified to think parishes were skipping the iConfirm service. From our more than decade-long experience of CnC, we’re here to tell you that the iConfirm service is the single most important part of the program. To skip it is to both greatly dilute the program’s impact and, worse, undermine the course’s core teachings.
We’re not saying confirmation is not important. Far from it. Confirmation is a sacrament, and an important one, and in the best of both worlds is included in the overall iConfirm service. When that is not possible, however, we are convinced it is essential to do both separately, because:
1. The confirmation service honors only those who have chosen confirmation, leaving those students who, in good conscience, are not prepared for confirmation out in the cold.
2. A look at the confirmation liturgy demonstrates that it is a service in which the church instructs and the confirmands listen. Confirmands have only one line in the liturgy, “I do.” They have no opportunity to teach or testify or share what they’ve learned.
CnC was created specifically to augment confirmation. Our core beliefs are that:
1) Young people have a voice and something worth saying
2) The church benefits greatly from hearing what they have to say
3) The decision to be confirmed (or not) is each student’s to make and, whatever the choice, the thought, work and care that went into it deserves to be honored
4) CnC students are taking responsibility for their own spiritual lives and it’s important for the parish, parents and students to acknowledge it
The iConfirm service is built on those beliefs. Every word, every action of the service underscores our faith in young people and what they have to say. And we know – we KNOW – from ten years of experience how incredible their voices are. Parents have been stunned by the wisdom of their children; congregations moved to tears by finally hearing the shyest of teenagers speak with passion.
The dominant voice of the service belongs to the youth. ALL the youth – who have a chance to talk about what they’ve learned and what they believe, and in so doing educate and inspire the gathered congregation.
Additionally, the iConfirm service honors the work and witness of the community. The youth are not doing their work in a vacuum; there are teachers, mentors, parents, and many others involved, and even those who were not actively part of the program are part of the students' community of faith. The service honors the commitment on both sides, and through prayers, the gift of stoles, the reception and the teachings, a new relationship is built between the community and each student.
As you’ve guessed, we feel very strongly about the value of the iConfirm service. We ask you, please, to at least try it once. If it doesn’t make the case for itself, then with our blessings feel free to ignore it forevermore. But we guarantee that what the youth have to say, confirmed and unconfirmed alike, will blow you, and your Bishop, away.