We can always start earlier - Have our Confirmation program lined up a year out, put on our informational session with parents and youth, get the congregation excited about a new intergenerational opportunity, and have the calendar set. But it is also not too late! July is the perfect time to feel the ease of summer and start putting into place the essentials for a strong and engaging year of formation for the youth and adults of your faith community.
To help, over the next three weeks, I will break down the check list for the Quick Getting Starting Guide for Confirm not Conform. Follow along! Doing just a few things each week will make you feel confident and ready.
Give yourself a 1 hour block in the next week when you can read through the Getting Started Guide. Grab your highlights and take some notes on what needs to be done next. Maybe read it in your favorite sunny place - pour yourself an iced tea. Invite a colleague to read it with you and plan together.
Get a sense of the sessions. Take a look at the Table of Contents to get an idea of the flow of the lessons. Don’t worry about scheduling them at this instant. What you need to know right now:
• Each session as written is 90 minutes long, but can be divided into smaller chunks.
• Each session document starts with information about what you need to have or do to set up that particular session. You will need some time in advance to gather material and to prepare the space.
• Session Materials to print out and copy are at the end of each individual session, not in a separate file.
• You will not need to prepare content, but we strongly encourage you to review the session content before you lead the session.
Basically, take a deep breath. Everything you need to know and prepare for is clearly written out in the materials.
If the date for your first session is imminent...Print out Session 1 or pull it up on your
eReader and take 10 minutes to look through it. Write down the items you need to have for the session. Schedule time to gather those items after this hour is over. Do not go scurrying off in a panic!
Stay tuned next week for more easy to check-off-your-list tasks. And always reach out for ideas or help - firstname.lastname@example.org
Just to tell you where I’m coming from: I’ve been teaching CnC for probably 10 years now. Every year I’ve talked the talk about how youth and parents need to make a commitment to attend CnC classes. Yes, youth are busy; yes, they have soccer and drama and all the rest. But if they want be part of the CnC program, they need to make the commitment to be there.
And now my daughter is old enough to be in CnC and I’ve had to walk the walk.
My daughter is a competitive gymnast. She has practice every day and meets on many weekends. And if she took CnC, she might not be able to compete in some of the big meets. She might be left out of certain team events that she could succeed in. There was a real possibility (or maybe just a threat) that if I took my daughter away from gymnastics in order to go through the CnC program, it might hurt her prospects. (I kind of feel that ought to be in capital letters, you know: It Will Hurt Her Prospects!!!)
But I realized if I thought this program was important enough for other parents and other youth to make the choice and commitment to attend, I had to do the same thing.
When I went to talk to my daughter’s coach, I got a some push-back on the fact that she was going to miss a few classes. I finally said to them, “Listen: if we were Jewish, and I said I was taking her out of class for a religious observance, would you be giving me this kind of resistance?” They said, “Well, no.” It’s a very strange thing how if we practiced some other religion, sports teams might be more accommodating. But I just don’t think we’re used to thinking of ourselves as needing accommodation for our religious observances, maybe because we already get the holidays off, or maybe because it just doesn’t occur to us that others should or would be willing to accommodate our faith.
If you’re getting concerns from your parents about how for this reason or that reason, their kid can’t participate in CnC, first of all, you’re not alone. We get that every year. And every year, Scott Denman tells them straight out, “If you can't make a commitment to come to the classes, then CnC is not for you; we don’t want to put you in a position where you’re torn.” People aren’t used to that coming from a church.
I often ask, “OK, where’s the real conflict?” Are we talking about how your kid is going to be 40 minutes late to every class? Then that’s not going to work. If there’s 18 things conflicting with CnC, then I can’t help you. But if there’s one thing, let’s talk.
But often it’s not the scheduling conflict that’s the real issue. One father once said to me, “I have no ego in my kid being at church, but I do have my ego in them being in sports.” Being in sports or a performance or whatever—there’s something that seems like achievement in that; getting confirmed, especially when the parents are used to a “do whatever and you’ll still get confirmed” kind of program—well, there’s no real achievement in that. Or at least it doesn’t look like achievement. And then they get to the iConfirm service and realize what their kid has actually accomplished and they’re so surprised. It’s like the mother on the CnC video [unavailable today] says, “I saw this young man I would have liked to have known, even if he wasn’t my own son.” And they don’t even know that that person is right there in front of them. [The son in question is an elite soccer player, by the way.]
There was one other mother who had decided that her son was just too busy to be in the CnC program. They were driving home after the information night, and she was going on and on about how he had this to do and that to do and she didn’t think it was going to be possible, and the son finally said, “Mom, I could really use some God in my life.”
We say all the time that you can do whatever you like with the CnC program. But on this one, you really need to challenge yourself and your parents—it’s more the parents than the youth—that making the commitment is important. If they can’t make the commitment, that’s fine. But then they’ll have to do the program another year. It’s what’s fair to the church, to you as a leader, and to all the participants. The commitment everyone makes is what ensures you’ll get all the good out of Confirm not Conform.
Written by Kellor Smith and posted on the original CnC Blog on 09/12/10. It is reposted with minor edits.
Confirm not Conform
Confirm not Conform provides a safe place for people to explore the breadth of the Christian tradition, to ask questions and express their doubts, and to discover what they truly believe.