Princeton Theological Seminary was recently awarded a $1.1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to fund a study that will “provide church leaders with strategies to help children connect with their religion.” This study of confirmation in five denominations – United Methodist, Presbyterian, Evangelical Lutheran, Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal – will include two elements: : (1) a survey of youth and parents about their beliefs, and (2) research that will involve visiting churches that are using innovative, creative ways to engage children in religion.
I have participated in confirmation as an educator in congregations affiliated with Presbyterian and Lutheran traditions (and as a student in a Presbyterian church). The three Presbyterian confirmation experiences varied in almost every way possible, including length, content, and culminating experiences.
Based on many conversations with students and parents of confirmation students, educational ministry leaders and committee/board members, and governing boards/sessions/councils, I know all too well how many opinions there are on what is essential and why. Mathematically that answer seems to always come out to be quite close to the number of people expressing an opinion.
There is great need for learning more about existing programs, and providing data about not only innovative and creative ways to engage children in religion but also best practices in creating and leading confirmation programs or ministries.
- Share what you found to be most meaningful about your own confirmation experience and/or those of your child(ren) and/or grandchild(ren). How did that aspect of confirmation impact or enable continued faith development following confirmation?
- What is the role of confirmation in your current local congregation? How does the program differ from what was offered 15 years ago? 50 years ago?