As far as I’m concerned, one of youth ministry’s most powerful moments can also be one of the scariest. I’m talking about the moment we expect confirmands—often very young teenagers—to crank out a written statement that explains what they believe about the almighty, triune God. And, it’s not like this faith statement is a private journaling moment. The statements get read (and sometimes published) for a group of adults who will be taking a vote on whether the kids should become full members of the church. No pressure!
But, wow, what a privilege to get to accompany young people as they dig deep to articulate their faith. It’s a blessing to sit with them and struggle with some of life’s biggest questions and then have an opportunity to see God through fresh, youth-filled eyes.
Since we’re in the time of the year that many of us are either focused on writing faith statements or will soon be focused on writing faith statements, here are some things to consider on the journey:
Practice Empathy—When’s the last time you wrote a faith statement? It’s not easy. Before expecting your confirmands to write anything, spend some time writing or updating your faith statement. Putting yourself in their shoes will help you be a better accompanier.
Include All Personality Types—God created us to be unique individuals, which means that one writing approach may not work for everyone in the group. Let the verbal processors talk it out and create space for the internal processors to ponder. Be sure to develop a writing experience that will include everyone.
Pay Attention to Different Needs—While some confirmands will blow right through this assignment with flying colors, others may struggle. Pay attention to the different needs in your group and create a plan to enable each to. Who struggles with anxiety? What learning challenges exist in the group? What can you do to accommodate each person’s needs to make the experience positive for them?
Offer Templates and Writing Prompts—Staring at a blank sheet of paper or computer screen is the hardest part of the writing process, right? Prevent the wasted time by offering a template for writing a basic faith statement or get them started with a writing prompt. (PYWA members, click here for a template example.)
Get Creative—Instead of writing a faith statement, tap into the creativity of the Holy Spirit by giving the confirmands an opportunity to express their faith through producing a video, writing a song, or creating some kind of visual art. These kinds of creative expressions of faith often provide a deeper dive into spirituality.
Most importantly, remember that we’re in this together. We'd love to hear your ideas and best practices!
Blog Writer: Michael Harper serves as the director of the Presbyterian Youth Workers' Association.