Sunday, July 11, 2010

Operation: Confirmation

I have a new challenge ahead of me in the fall.  At the church where I am serving, it is their practice to have a long Confirmation class - a full Sunday School year to be exact.  I am going to have as many as 10 young minds to corrupt - er - shape.  I'm looking at coming up with a year-long curriculum, basically, and I've never taught any kind of Confirmation class before, much less a very long and involved one.

Confirmation is normally significantly shorter, and so a lot of what I hear about in terms of support would last me until maybe October or November, at which point I still have until May to figure out what to do.

This is a cool challenge for someone who likes to write or stitch together his own materials anyway.  I want to have some kind of overall structure for the class; I want to make sure I cover 'all the basics', particularly given how much time I have.

This is a big challenge for someone who has only recently acquired any skills for working with children.  I think this group will be old enough that I'll be able to manage - we'll see.  But taking someone who is awkward around children and handing him 10 middle schoolers for a year is a little bit daunting.

I'm doing some smart things - I'm recruiting mentors for the kids from the congregation; I'm planning to work with a colleague from the area who is also teaching Confirmation for the first time (the usual 12-week-or-so kind); I'm trying to think ahead.

I'm posting this here in case anyone out there has ideas for resources I can draw upon for Operation: Confirmation.  I'm looking for progressive resources that cover the basics of Christian faith and life, aimed at late elementary/middle school/junior high age kids.

In particular, I would like to integrate some Creation Spirituality into the class, both in structure and focus.  I am thinking of building the whole class roughly around the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality.  This will also serve as Step 1 in my plan to work out a system for using the liturgical year to move through the Four Paths (more on that another time).

So, anyway, there it is.  If you have anything to send my way, feel free to put it in the comments (so others can benefit) or send me an email.


Aric Clark said...

You have already done what I would suggest by getting mentors. I would suggest mentor/student meet at least weekly and the entire group meet together monthly for some kind of outing or productive experience, for reflection.

I would suggest the confirmand and mentor each keep a journal, as well, and use it as the source of group discussions.

Heather W. Reichgott said...

Hi Doug!

My confirmation class was a full year, two hours a week, and we studied the Confessions. There was also some Bible study, journal assignments, and the occasional Random Discussion About Stuff. There was a weekend retreat with hiking, a lot of goofing off, and one interesting afternoon workshop that was role-playing starting a church (for which we had to make a mission statement, figure out what the session etc. would do...). At the end of the year we all wrote personal statements of faith.

This was pretty much normal for rural Pennsylvania at the time (mid-90s) as far as I know. I guess it sounds like a lot for ninth graders, but confirmation is the point when we become adults in the eyes of the church. Confirmed people can be elders on session, commissioners to presbytery and general assembly, etc. So it's important for them to have a well-informed, adult perspective on the tradition. I think, too often, we dumb things down way too far for our young adults. We're told we're adults at confirmation, and then we get treated like little kids till we're 50...

Anyway, when teenagers are told on day 1 that they're being prepared for church adulthood and that it's going to happen in the short term, they do step up and take it seriously... at least on some days.