Confirmation Tips for Parents I: Understanding Confirmation

As my second daughter approaches confirmation, I am reminded just how different two children in the same family can be! With my oldest daughter, the confirmation conversation centered around faith as a journey. She needed to know that no one has all the answers and that almost everyone has doubts. With my second, conversation focused more on the meaning of the confirmation promises. She wanted to be sure she understood what was being asked. She also needed practical help with the statement of faith assignment. Getting all of her thoughts down on paper in the way she wants them takes time for her.

This two-part post covers 1) How to talk to your teen about what confirmation is and 2) How to help your teen start to write a statement of faith. We are United Methodist,  so my explanations reflect that tradition.

What is Confirmation? Before starting the writing process, it is helpful to review what the confirmation process is. It may have been awhile since the first meeting when confirmation was explained. Now that you are further along in the process, it will likely make more sense.

In the United Methodist tradition children are often baptized as infants. Until confirmation, the baptismal promises are made and kept by parents. Confirmation is the time when teens choose to make (or confirm) these promises for themselves.

What Promises are Made at Confirmation? Confirmation promises are the same as baptismal promises. Only now, the child speaks for themself. At baptism, and confirmation, we promise three things. With  a copy of  the baptismal service in front of you, begin to discuss. Here is how I explained those promises to my daughter recently:

“Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject evil powers of this world and repent of your sins?” This promise asks us to identify evil and sin. You are asked if you are sorry for your own sin. A colleague calls this part of the promise, “naming what you are AGAINST.”

img_20170120_195243“Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves? My daughter was very familiar with these words because we had recently painted them on signs for a march. If we say we are against evil, this promise says we are going to do something about it.

“Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations and races?”  My colleague calls this part of the promise, “naming what you are FOR.”  We discussed how naming Jesus as Lord means then when we are faced with a tough decision, we will always strive to follow Christ. Someday we might be need to choose between following Christ and getting in trouble, losing a friend, or not making as much money. If Jesus is Lord in our lives, then we are saying we will choose to follow Jesus even when it is really hard.

Now that you have reminded yourselves what confirmation is, you are ready to begin writing your statement of faith.

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