On Saturday, I had the opportunity to spend some time presenting about confirmaton at the Michigan District Confirmation Symposium, a lutheran gathering dedicated to spending time teaching and having conversations around the topic of confirmation/catechism. Because of the time that we have spent as a church, specifically in the middle school ministry, developing a family based approach to confirmation, I was asked to present on the topic of parents in confirmation. My hope was that besides laying out what our program looks like I would offer a few principles that are important when involving parents in confirmation regardless of the context of your church or the method of your program. The following are the notes from the first half of my session about some principles that we all need to strive for in regards to the parents of students in our confirmation programs.
What we need for in parents and confirmation:
1. We need pastor dads.
Imagine what life would be like if we outsourced our jobs as parents. Perhaps we could hire somebody to go to basketball games and cheer our kids on. We could hire someone to sit in on parent-teacher conferences. We could even outsource changing dirty diapers and losing sleep. This might sound absurd, but it is exactly what happens often when it comes to spirituality. Parents commonly outsource the role of teaching the Bible to pastors and youth leaders.
What would it look like for confirmation to encourage fathers and mothers to be the spiritual leaders in their homes? What would it look like for confirmation to be something that helps parents teach their kids instead of being a class their kids need to attend? What if confirmation took seriously the words the small catechism begins with, "As the head of the family should teach the household."
2. We need to help parents teach their kids.
If parents do live out their role as parents, our job as a church is finding ways to help and encourage parents in that role. Many parents feel inadaqueate to teach their children the Bible, so it is crucial that in this the church partners with parents so that they can help them do what only they can do.
As a part of our family based confirmation, our goal is to give parents tools that they can use so they can be the primary teachers of the Bible in their home. What better thing than for a kid to learn from their parents as they drive to the soccer game, sit down for a family meal, or are tucked into bed at night?
3. We need to help families realize mutual transformation happens through mutual fascination.
The faith development that happens is not solely in the life a child, but it is a mutual thing. As parents and children do life together and share with each other, the growth of faith in the life of a child encourages the faith of a parent and the faith experiences of the parent encourage and teach the child.
Confirmation is a tool.
If these are the things that we want to be a reality within our confirmation ministries, the way we design our confirmation program should be done in such a way that it encourages those things in happening. For many ministries, confirmation is programmed in a way that not only doesn't encourage those things to happen but it sometimes even encourages the opposite. Realize confirmation is an important tool as we disciple teenagers and help parents live out their role as the primary spiritual nurturers.