A couple of Saturdays ago, we hosted our first Youth Discover Day for the 2011-2012 school year. Traditionally it’s a day where pastors and lay leaders bring confirmands to learn about theological education and the value of asking theological questions. You can guess how much enthusiasm these youth traditionally start with. That’s right–it’s Saturday morning at 9:30. You’re here with your pastor, a few people you know, a bunch of teens you don’t, and a group of peer and seminary mentors. Often times the day is one of the requirements for the confirmand. The God-moment for me seems to be the repeated enjoyment, energy, and engagement these youth have by the end of the event. In my mind, truly a testament to the spiritual and theological hunger of our young people–but I digress.
What struck me this year was the trust our guests have for sharing with their peer and seminary mentors. In small group conversations, groups talked about waiting and preparation (it is Advent after all). And so the obvious connection–what are you waiting/preparing for with Confirmation?
Answer: That I don’t have to go to church anymore.
Now, I realize that this statement isn’t exactly a revelation. We in the world of faith formation and Christian education have long bemoaned the ticket out the door phenomenon of Confirmation. But friends, here’s the elephant in the living room, your young people not only think of it as the ticket out the door. They actually name it.
Now before you get defensive, argumentative, or defeated–pause. These young people simply stated what you already know to be true. These young people said these things while on a seminary campus. With seminary and peer mentors. They have gifted us with naming the really real. Now, how does God call us to respond with and to this reality? In this Advent season, what new ways of confirming and affirming our faith seek to be born?