Holy Laughter Has the Last Word in Ministry with Teens

Last night our Session (church governing body) examined a group of Confirmation students (7th-8th graders), who we call Seekers. ?There were 9 Seekers, 7 Elders, 1 Teacher, 1 Pastor, and 5 Pizzas.

The Seekers have been meeting since October, nearly every Sunday morning.

We started with the pizza and a prayer. ?Then I read Psalm 91 and we played a game called Find Your Penguin?which involved making strange noises and keeping eyes tightly closed. ?(Thanks to a suggestion by Younger Daughter who has Been There with Confirmation.) ?And yes, the game even had a point: ?God knows each of us and is tuned into the sound of our voice. ?Throughout life, we need to stop and listen for the unique sound of God’s voice.

The “examination” had two parts: Questions and Faith Statements.

We addressed the Questions in the whole group. ?The Seekers could choose between: a) telling how a single story in the Bible fit in with the overarching “One Story of the Bible” (say it together: God Loves God’s People) OR selecting a question from a list of 12 questions about the church and how it operates.

The first 6 Seekers told Bible stories, including: Noah, Daniel, Moses, Esther, Abraham & Isaac, and the Blind Man at the pool of Siloam. ?The last 3 Seekers must have figured that pretty well covered it, because they all chose questions about church and church polity (these kids are amazing).

We addressed the Faith Statements in smaller groups, 2 Elders with 2 Seekers. ?The Seekers had been working on writing a Faith Statement for many weeks/months. The content covered their beliefs about God the Creator, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, as well as the Bible and the Church.

I asked the Elders to share a little about their faith journeys with the Seekers as well. ?(We keep saying: faith is a lifelong journey, not a “now I’m done with it” kind of thing. ?I worry that the Confirmation process itself feels too much like a graduation, meaning, I’m free!)

For the ending we had a circle prayer. ?To my surprise and delight, everyone participated. ?As the very last 2 people prayed, a couple of the Seekers got the giggles. Powerfully. ?Do you remember the last time you got the giggles in church? ?The more they tried to stop, the more they jiggled and giggled. ?So the evening ended in an eruption of holy laughter. Not a bad way to end!

I know that this traditional way of doing Confirmation is being replaced in many places with shorter versions. ?I wonder: Is this method still viable in today’s world? But when a church of 75 souls produces a group of 9 Seekers (including 2 from outside the church) my answer is: the traditional method is still working. ?I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Next Sunday is the big day. ?The Seekers will share their faith statements in worship, and we will confirm them, which means that I will ask them the Baptismal questions, then have them kneel while I pray for each of them and put a cross necklace over their head. ?Then we’ll all go over to the fellowship hall and eat cake and take pictures.

Pray for them, will you? ?A prayer of gratitude, and a special blessing as they take this big step on their faith journey. A prayer of thankfulness for the teacher, who truly sees this task as a calling, and pours heart and soul into it.


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