Sunday, June 15, 2014

Traditional Anglican Small Church Ministry Ideas: Youth Confirmation Classes

I hope to occasionally share some ideas I have had in my years in ministry that may be helpful to other Anglican and liturgically-oriented churches. This is not to imply that I am some kind of expert, especially as I have not been in full time parish ministry for a long time (only about eight years).  Rather, these are nothing more than little things I have done that I have found to be helpful and successful in the parishes in which I have served.



A few years ago I began going to the houses of children preparing for confirmation to give them instruction. I found that I just did not have time to meet with a small group of confirmands out of all of our church kids that may show up on Sunday mornings. (I typically meet with all the kids from church every Sunday after Mass... more on that down the road.) And furthermore, the Sunday attendance of some confirmands was rather sporadic due to parents' schedules, so even if I had the time and the staff to meet with a small group of our kids for the purpose of confirmation instruction, a few might not show up for a week or two, and thus miss out on something. So I began going to the kids' houses during the week. This has worked really well for us and paid off in a number of ways. Here's a few.

1) During the summer months, when we typically offer instruction, parents are anxious for their kids to do anything productive... especially if it was of a spiritual nature. The parents were thrilled that I came over and told me to come whenever I wanted to. This worked out better with my schedule and the parents. Parents love the flexibility too.

2) I get a chance to meet the entire family and build relationships not only with the confirmands but also with the extended family and even with neighbors. Thus, the confirmation class becomes something of a weekly pastoral visit. In the case of one family it resulted in the entire family joining the parish and a believer's baptism (the first I ever did).

3) The whole family gets instructed. I meet with the kids in close proximity to the rest of the family, not only for purposes of pastoral integrity and responsibility, but also so the everyone within earshot can hear what I am teaching. So other family members in addition to the kids are listening in and soaking in the catholic and apostolic faith as presented in the Prayer Book catechism.

4) It gives me a chance to see how the family lives and relates to each other at home. This goes very far in dispelling my own assumptions about a family's life, and also allows me to see how they relate to each other outside of Sunday church services. I love seeing family pictures, meeting the family pet, and more, as it helps me draw close to the family and gives me insight as to how I can do a better job of being their pastor.

5) The kids love having the priest over at their house! They find it interesting to see the priest in his collar and with his Prayer Book outside of Sunday services, and in their own home.

6) It gives me a chance to work with each kid individually and discuss questions and issues pertinent to them as individuals. Kids are very interested in the faith and have lots of questions! This gives me a chance to really discuss some good things with them.

I generally meet with them once a week for half an hour. We use only the Cathechism and Offices of Instruction from the Prayer Book. I print up packets with those offices in them and use the backside to draw diagrams, make comments and notes, etc. They are only required to memorize the Lord's Prayer, Creed, and Ten Commandments and be very familiar with the Catechism and Offices of Instruction. In other words, I keep it very basic, because the assumption is that they will continue attending Mass (most do) and so their education will continue with youth Sunday School (again, more on that down the road). The Cathechism and Offices of Instruction provide a great jumping off point to discuss polity, sacraments, etc., so in no way do I feel limited by using only the Prayer Book for Confirmation prep.

This has worked very well for us at St. Alban's... a small church with just me on staff. If you are looking for an alternative way to provide instruction for Confirmation consider taking classes to the kids during the week! It may work out well for you too.

1 comment:

  1. Father, I too have done this in the past and it is a very good way to go. What churches need to understand is that what matters is not having Sunday school but Christian Education. The two are not mutually exclusive, obviously, but Sunday school is not necessarily educational. Parents try to send their children to schools with a low faculty/student ratio, but when it comes to one-on-one education in the church, it is often a paradigm shift.