In the church, we are continually evaluating. In fact, that is a substantial part of every staff meeting as we discuss the events of the previous week and ask what went well, what did not, and what needs to be changed. Part of the reason for on-going evaluation is that we as a staff strive for excellence. Another part of the reason is that there is no one right way to do church. There is no church out there that can say that they have found a “one size fits all” approach that will be guaranteed to work in other churches. If a church would ever find that magic formula, that church that would be swept into the stratosphere of other churches clamoring to know their secret. Since that is not the reality, we evaluate continuously in order to discover what ministries work well in our church in our town at this time. Our mantra in staff is that there is never a failure unless we fail to learn. (In fact, what I know is that if we don’t have “failures,” we playing it safe rather than risking for God. But that is another sermon…)
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that as we came to the end of our new confirmation program, we evaluated our efforts to create a program in which our youth practiced the second year what they had learned in the first year of confirmation. Our goal in creating this two year program was that we would eliminate the pattern of kids getting confirmed and thinking that they had graduated and were done with church.
Yet as the leaders talked and as we evaluated the input of parents and the youth themselves, it was clear that the second year didn’t really accomplish what we hoped that it might for a number of reasons. Out of those conversations, Cindy and Bob Burns, Duane Schultz, Kendy, Jeff and I have made some changes to our confirmation program that reflect the best of what we have been doing and what needs to be done differently. And – guess what? We will also continue to evaluate, both as we go and at the end of another year!
These are the aspects of confirmation that will continue:
Confirmands will meet Sunday mornings during the Sunday school hour and Wednesday evenings from 6:30-7:30 p.m. They will continue to have lock-ins, mission opportunities and a work trip. Wednesday evenings will continue to rotate with mentor night, pastor night, parent night, destination unknown and (on fifth Wednesdays) meeting with the high school youth group. We will continue to have a shared program with the Alden UMC, with appropriate modifications made on the part of both churches.
There are the aspects of confirmation that will change:
We want to strengthen the mentor-student relationship and the parent-student relationship. We will have more structured interaction times with parents and mentors on Wednesday evenings.
Confirmation will be a 12 month program, from September to September. Our current 8th graders will be confirmed (if they so choose) in September. The Alden UMC and the Iowa Falls UMC will confirm on different dates in order that confirmands and leaders might support one another in this faith milestone. This summer they will have a lock-in, a mission “trip” (a local effort to shingle a home in Iowa Falls while spending nights at the church), and help with VBS.
I am grateful beyond words for the deep commitment of Bob and Cindy Burns and Duane Schultz. I am also continually delighted by the youth of our church. Both the recently confirmed young people and those in 8th grade are such gifts to our church! May they know that the church is a gift to them as well.
God is doing good things in our midst! If you have questions, concerns or feedback, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Meanwhile, I am…
On the journey with you,