Resources for Christian Education logo

What is Confirmation?

Confirmation appears in the Catholic church and in many Mainline churches. The focus here will be about Confirmation in Mainline churches.

Confirmation is often associated with infant baptism or infant dedications. When an infant is baptized/dedicated, there is usually a covenant that is made between the congregation and the parents about raising the child in the faith. Confirmation is the conclusion of this covenant.

Confirmation usually consists of two parts: The Confirmation Class and The Act of Confirmation (or Confirmation of Faith). The purpose of the Confirmation Class is to support and equip the students for, and beyond, the Act of Confirmation. Confirmation students are usually of the 8th or 9th grade age-range, but both components of Confirmation are more effectively experienced when the student is older (at least 9th grade, but 10th grade is even better). Adult Confirmation classes, though rare, are highly recommended and can be powerful experiences for the students. The class length can vary, but a one hour class, once a week (with occasional breaks) during the school year is typical (click for a Sample Schedule). As the class comes to an end, the students choose whether or not to participate in the Act of Confirmation.

The Act of Confirmation happens in worship, after the Confirmation Class has concluded. It consists of two possible components: 1. Confirming one's faith and 2. Becoming a member of the church. (Note: Becoming a member of the church can be seen as replacing the completed baptism covenant with a new covenant, a covenant of membership). Some faith traditions also tie-in a student's first communion with The Act of Confirmation. Though a 1st Communion can make the Act of Confirmation a more emotional event, this practice requires enforcing that a certain subset of the congregation (mostly the children of the congregation) be refused from participating in Communion. This message that some are in and some are out as determined by church governance or pastor decree is not something I can recommend. In my opinion, there is no upside to this type of exclusion and strays too close for comfort (for me) to the Pharisee-like actions that so often obstructed Jesus' ministry.

R4 Approach to Confirmation

The biggest misconception and following mistake that happens with Confirmation is about the students' starting point. The Confirmation class and Act of Confirmation so often crowns our youth with a sense of graduation from Sunday school because we associate conclusion of Sunday school with the choice to be a disciple. But this couldn't be farther from the truth. As teachers, we must assume that the students are members of the crowd and not disciples. And, therefore, it is our responsibility as teachers to inform our confirmation students about the choice that is before them. In order to do this, we must define the choice. Here are some core questions that arise about choosing to be a disciple of Jesus: Why should I follow Jesus? How do I follow Jesus? What would I do as a disciple? What's the role of the church regarding this discipleship thing? Is there anything beyond being a disciple? Because the best examples of how to follow Jesus are demonstrated in the stories of Jesus and his disciples, the R4 Confirmation Class curriculum is Jesus-centered and seeks to address the questions listed above.

Lesson Plan Details: The lessons start at the beginning of Jesus' ministry and somewhat chronologically arrive to Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.  In every lesson, you'll find a number of recurring components. Click here to read for more about the components of the lesson. Click here to browse and download the R4 Confirmation Lesson Plans.