Confirm not Conform, or CnC, is a youth confirmation program that takes confirmation seriously. It exposes youth to a wide range of topics, including Scripture, sacraments, creeds, heresy, prayer, other religions, and serving others, and asks them to think through what they believe and why.
It is also a philosophy that applies to both the youth and adult Confirm not Conform programs. Confirm not Conform emphasizes finding one’s own voice rather than simply conforming to an external standard. It is a program that respects the work youth and adults do as they explore their faith. We trust that when people put in the effort to articulate what they believe and why, they will make good choices about their next step in faith.
CnC is also, we have come to find, a congregational development program. The entire church grows in faith by participating in Confirm not Conform, as mentors, parents, chaperones, or supportive onlookers who all make the commitment to support participants in the program in their life in Christ.
Visit the CnC Youth page for more information.
CnC for Adults is an adult spiritual formation program based on the youth curriculum Confirm not Conform. CnC for Adults shares the youth program’s emphasis on building an authentic faith, but with a focus on the spiritual and developmental needs of people in the middle of their life. Developed to provide a program for the parents dropping off their kids for confirmation class, CnC for Adults can also serve as an adult confirmation course, a general adult education program, a Sunday morning series, a newcomer orientation, a retreat program, and more.
Visit the CnC Adult page for more information
We developed Confirm not Conform because we found that most confirmation programs were designed to have the youth sit quietly for however many sessions and then nod politely and say the right things when presented to the bishop for confirmation. These programs assumed every youth would be confirmed – would go along with the program – and didn’t seem to allow any room for youth to claim their faith for themselves. They were being asked to conform rather than truly wrestle with and articulate their beliefs and confirm them.
In developing Confirm not Conform, we created a program we felt would allow participants to be honest in their expression of faith, to gain skills in leadership and in articulating their beliefs, and to make a genuine decision and true affirmation of faith if and when they chose to be confirmed.
With your purchase of Confirm not Conform, you receive downloadable files which include:
- Getting Started guide
- 20 sessions with leader guides and printable handouts*
- Weekend Retreat handbook
- Mentor/Parent handbook
- iConfirm service and planning materials
- Mentor recruitment and training materials
- And more!
By the terms of your license agreement, your church can have as many copies of these files as you wish, use them as long as you like, and make as many copies as you need. You do not need to buy any additional workbooks or materials.
You also have access to the creators of the program directly, as well as through our blog posts, social media, and other channels. We are here to help you!
*Download the Table of Contents Youth Program (link in right sidebar) for more details
Over the course of 20 lessons, the Confirm not Conform program covers four major themes through a wide range of activities. The main themes of the program are:
- Prayer and Worship
- Service and action
Down the Table of Contents for the Youth or Adult program for more details. The links are in the right sidebar.
In addition, building relationships is another important component of the program. The first lessons help build and bond the class, and youth are paired with mentors to deepen their connections with their congregation beyond their age group. As the program progresses, youth prepare a presentation on a service project to church leaders (Vestry, Session, etc.) so that youth and church leaders recognize the presence and contributions of Confirm not Conform participants as full members of their congregation.
The Confirm not Conform youth program is available in forms specifically for Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, UCC, and Presbyterian churches. However, almost all of the program is fully usable for any denomination. Two sessions (13 and 14) are written with specific denominations in mind, and some of the language throughout each program (e.g. Vestry, Parish Council) may not be the language you use. However, the principles, history, and other information meets the needs of a wide swath of Christian denominations. Please download the Table of Contents to get a better idea of what the program covers and whether that would work for your congregation.
Confirm not Conform for Adults is currently only available as written for an Episcopal audience. Again, the bulk of the content is applicable to most denominations. However, there are four sessions that are very specifically Anglican in focus. Please download the Table of Contents to get an overview of the CnC for Adults program.
In describing Confirm not Conform, we say that participants will take on three different tasks: Deconstruction, Design, and Construction
- Deconstruction: participants learn that it’s OK to challenge what they have always been told, to look critically at what they have always believed—or always been told to believe.
- Design: participants examine their current beliefs and the beliefs of others, reflecting on why they believe what they do and determining if those beliefs should be kept or discarded.
- Construction: as participants determine which beliefs hold up to examination, they are given opportunities to articulate their faith through word or action.
These tasks overlap and may not happen in a linear fashion; some lessons include two or even all three of these tasks. But the goal is not destruction of faith, but construction. It may not look exactly like the tradition as we currently know it, but it will neither be a mindless parroting of or (negative) reaction to “the way we’ve always done it.”
Another important principle of Confirm not Conform is that participants are encouraged to reflect, not pressured to perform. We cannot stress enough how important it is that participants choose for themselves whether or not to be confirmed at the end of this program—but that all participants are thanked and celebrated for their honest and deep reflection on their faith and life throughout the program and especially in the iConfirm service.
The Confirm not Conform youth program is roughly geared toward 8th or 9th graders, but people have used it with younger middle school students, high school students, adults, as well as classes with different age groups mixed together.
However, the important thing to us is whether a person can articulate for him- or herself the desire to be confirmed. The #1 question to ask when deciding if youth are of an appropriate age to participate in CnC is, ”Do the youth have the capacity to say no?” In other words, are they able to make the decision whether or not they want to be confirmed and are they able to articulate why?
Please see our blog entry on this topic for further thoughts on this subject.
Confirm not Conform has been used successfully with classes of 2 or 3 to 50 or more. There’s no established minimum or maximum number; we leave it to churches to decide for themselves when a class size becomes unproductive or unwieldy. With larger groups, churches may decide to break up into two or more smaller classes or add more adults to assist with classes or logistics. As with all of our materials, you do not need to conform to our expectations; use the materials as may be best for you.
The Confirm not Conform youth program received minor edits and improvements for 2016. These include:
- Editable Documents folder A separate folder of Word documents that can be edited and customized for your congregation, including letters, forms, and the iConfirm service.
- Session updates Revisions include removing references to outdated videos, information on the Sustainable Development Goals, tweaks, improvements and general corrections.
- Option for sixty-minute session timeline For those who cannot offer 90-minute sessions
The program is now also for sale directly from Confirm not Conform, through our website. Please see the Pricing and Ordering page for more information or to link to our online ordering.
We expect to update CnC for Adults later in 2016.
In 2012 , we completely revised the Confirm not Conform program. We incorporated feedback we received from customers and churches over the previous three years to improve Confirm not Conform while keeping its engaging style and remaining true to its principles.
Here are some of the ways we revised Confirm not Conform for 2012:
- Lessons have more room to breathe! You told us that there was too much information and too much to do in each lesson. We have added lessons to make it easier to complete activities without feeling rushed.
- No/minimal homework You told us that just the word homework made it harder for students who are already overburdened and overscheduled. Most of the “homework” has now been incorporated into the lessons as part of the activities and discussion. Those lessons that do require outside classwork have been reduced to a handful.
- Easier to group lessons by subject We have retitled lessons making it easier to group them according to subject matter. You don’t have to take lessons in order, but can pick the topics that matter most to your class.
- Removing our assumptions about context Confirm not Conform was written for a suburban, middle-class parish and it shows. We have done our best to rewrite with the knowledge that not all parishes have the same context.
- Expanded preparation for service project Information on the service project is presented earlier in the program and additional lesson time is given to help students determine what to do and how to do it.
- Strategies for special needs youth Understanding the importance of including all who seek God or a deeper knowledge of God, we have worked to include more activities that are accessible to a wider range of learning styles. We offer additional suggestions and strategies for youth with special needs in our Getting Started guide.
- Additional information for Church Leadership Church leaders are often nonplussed by what Confirm not Conform asks of them. A brief handout allows you to make an informed presentation to the Vestry, explaining what is in it for them and for the parish.
The iConfirm service is not a Confirmation service, though it can include Confirmation. It is instead a service that celebrates all who participate in the Confirm not Conform program.
During this service the congregation recognizes that the participants in Confirm not Conform have taken responsibility for their own spiritual lives and the participants, in turn, accept that responsibility. Class participants share the Bible passages they have memorized and teach on them and, when possible, the bishop is in attendance to confirm those who choose to be confirmed and to bless those who have chosen not to be confirmed. It is a service of great emotion and power and, traditionally, a party for the students follows the service—one to which they invite their friends and families.
Please see our blog entry for further information on the iConfirm service.
Another principle of Confirm not Conform is that it is not a “youth program;” it is a congregational development program. In many confirmation programs, no one outside of the teacher and the youth in the confirmation class is involved in the confirmation process. With CnC, the entire congregation is involved to a greater or lesser extent. Youth are paired with congregational mentors. The church leadership becomes involved as youth present an action proposal for a service project. All the members of the church are invited to write messages of encouragement on the stoles presented to students at the iConfirm service. And the congregation sees and hears from the youth as they take leadership roles in Holy Week services and share with the congregation their faith as expressed in a Creed they write together.
Churches pay a one-time licensing fee for the use of Confirm not Conform for your congregation. With that fee, you receive downloadable files for all sessions and supplemental materials. You can make as many copies as you wish and use them as many times as you wish within the church that owns the license. (Your End User License Agreement will provide further guidance on permitted uses.) The licensing fee is based on Average Sunday Attendance, and starts at $149. To find out the cost for your size congregation, please visit our Pricing and Ordering page.
Licenses are available for church bodies that wish to provide Confirm not Conform to all churches in their judicatory, providing a much less expensive alternative for congregations. In addition, Confirm not Conform will provide a training program to help congregations learn how to implement the program.
To purchase a license for youth or adult program, the cost would be $100 per congregation.
To purchase a license for both youth and adult programs, the costs is $150 per congregation.
Cost can be spread over two calendar years.
Please contact us if you are interested in discussing a regional license or have further questions at email@example.com.
Confirm not Conform was developed by members of the staff of St. John's Episcopal Church in Oakland, California over the course of about 8 years. You can find brief biographies of the Confirm not Conform team here.