Outside of church walls, “confirmation” is a run-of-the-mill word typically associated with the idea of verification—we can choose to receive “confirmation” when a package we’ve shipped reaches its destination, for example. Inside church walls, however, the word “confirmation” is used quite differently, and often to mean slightly different things. So what does it mean, anyway?
What We Mean When We Talk About Confirmation
Most often, “confirmation” is used to describe the entire three-year educational program which serves to prepare students for the Affirmation of Baptism service and the life of discipleship that follows. During this time, a student is said to be in or going to confirmation. The Latin word confirmare, the earliest ancestor of “confirmation,” literally means “to strengthen.” Paired with the word “faith,” this produces an appropriate definition of “confirmation” as used in this way—it’s a time to strengthen faith.
“Confirmation” is also used to describe the special worship service that concludes this time of faith-strengthening. Therefore a student looks forward to being confirmed at his or her confirmation service. Liturgically speaking, this is called an Affirmation of Baptism, a rite of passage which reminds both individuals and the assembly of the covenant made at our baptism—both God’s promise to us and our call to live out those promises.
Martin Luther, however, reminds us that the Christian life is one of daily dying and rising with Christ in the waters of baptism. In this sense “confirmation” is something that never stops happening. It all begins with the sacrament of baptism, in which we’re washed with water, marked with the cross of Christ, and filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit in a public celebration. It’s confirmed in the Affirmation of Baptism service, in which we say “Yes!” to our baptism. And it continues in the daily renewal of our commitment to the baptismal life.
In other words, confirmation is not an end, but a beginning. During the Affirmation of Baptism liturgy, candidates are asked to “profess faith in Christ Jesus, reject sin, and confess the faith of the church."
Additionally—and perhaps more importantly—candidates are asked:
“Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in holy baptism:
To live among God's faithful people,
to hear the word of God and share in the Lord's supper,
to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,
and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth?”
This question from the heart of the Affirmation of Baptism liturgy paints a rather vivid picture of a life of faith, and as such it serves as the foundation of the confirmation program at Faith.
Our desire is to partner with families and the congregation in the task of training young people in the various practices that are essential for nurturing lifelong faith by:
- Presenting the core of the Christian faith through study of scripture and Luther’s Small Catechism, and using these texts as the context for exploring current issues in confirmands’ everyday lives;
- Promoting the development of faith practices—habits of Christian discipleship—in confirmands by providing opportunities for and encouraging reflection upon worship, prayer, service, study, fellowship, retreats, encouragement, etc.;
- Strengthening confirmands’ identification with the Church by facilitating relationship-building with other members of Faith through both small group and large group experiences guided by trained and caring adults;
- Preparing confirmands for the rite of Affirmation of Baptism and the life of discipleship that follows.
Confirmation Handbook (2015-2016)
The Confirmation Handbook is a valuable resource that contains everything you need to know about Faith’s confirmation program for the 2013-2014 program year, including year-long calendars, student/parent expectations, and explanations of the Family Digest and various confirmation faith practices.
Click here to download the 2015-2016 Confirmation Handbook
Family Digest (Spring 2017)
Every confirmation student will receive a single-sheet Family Digest twice per year—one for fall and one for spring/summer—which is intended to be posted in a visible location in the home (we recommend the fridge). The Family Digest’s primary function is to provide accountability between families and confirmation staff/volunteers by keeping a student’s progress in his or her faith practice expectations ever-present in the home (see pp.12-16 and 19-23 in the Confirmation Handbook for more on faith practice expectations). It also includes handy at-a-glance versions of the weekly confirmation schedule and important dates for the current semester.
Each Family Digest has a return-by date, which is when we request that students have filed them in the filing cabinet along the west wall of the Commons.
Weekly Family Devotions
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