What Confirmation Means to our Family
By Brett Treadwell
“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” - Proverbs 22:6
Every Sunday morning at 9:45 from August to May, the CUMC Scout Hut buzzes with the energy of more than 125 sixth graders and their table leaders. This is Chapelwood confirmation. And for me, it’s the last time to be a table leader. My wife, Julie, and I have three children, and our son Austin is in the 2018 class of “confirmands.” He follows along behind his sisters, Katelyn (ninth grade) and Courtney (eighth grade), and I’ve been blessed to participate as a table leader in each of their confirmation classes as well.
I find myself reflecting on what three years as a table leader has meant to our family. But first, what is confirmation and what is the role of the table leader?
Confirmation at Chapelwood is for sixth grade students who are interested in learning what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and a member of the church. At the end of confirmation, the students who choose to do so will profess their faith in Christ and become a full church member. The “choosing to do so” part makes confirmation different than infant baptism. And I would argue more meaningful. It’s the confirmand’s first public opportunity to promise to live as a person of faith. And it’s the sixth-graders that are making the promise, not their parents. A big step in the Christian journey.
Each table leader is assigned to a group of eight to ten kids. I am responsible for Table 5 this year, along with adopted co-leader, Peter Tesarak. Our group sits together each Sunday, and Peter and I facilitate discussions on multiple faith topics. We answer questions and offer support and encouragement. Table 5 is all boys (10) – a bit different than my tables with Katelyn and Courtney…
And what did confirmation mean to each one of my kids? I asked each of them to text me their thoughts (with no influence or editing from Dad):
- Katelyn (Confirmation Class of 2015) – “I really enjoyed confirmation. I Iearned a lot about how I should trust God with my life now and in what my future holds for me. Occasionally there would be a certain lesson that would touch my heart and make me feel the Lord at my side, no matter how hard life can be. I also loved the experience of learning about God with friends at my table.”
- Courtney (Confirmation Class of 2016) – “Confirmation was a fun and interesting way to learn about God. The variety of people that came and spoke was refreshing and meaningful. I liked being in groups because you got to know people over the year.”
- Austin (Confirmation Class of 2018) – “I think confirmation is great because of how you get to be with all of your friends to learn and share things about God. I also love it because of how there are various lessons and teachers that help us through confirmation and through life!”
So what has my experience as a table leader meant to me? Several things come to mind, the first being one that wouldn’t have registered with me were it not for the feedback from my kids. You may have noted the common theme in their quotes - they loved learning about God in a group. This has reinforced for me in my own Christian walk that God did not design us to “go it alone.” We need to surround ourselves with a Christian community who shares our values, keeps us sharp in our faith and holds us accountable. We need each other.
Secondly, I recall learning in one of our lessons that confirmation is the word used to describe the confirmand’s first public profession of their faith in Jesus Christ. But it is not intended to be their last. Confirmation is simply a way marker on the Christian journey, a starting point for the “adult” Christian. This gives me a renewed appreciation for my own post-confirmation responsibilities. I, Table 5 leader and 1981 CUMC confirmand, need to continue professing my faith as well, whatever form that may take.
But the most meaningful (and potentially obvious) aspect of this program is this: the Chapelwood confirmation program brings Proverbs 22:6 to life. It has been a blessing to participate in the “training up” of my kids and other sixth graders “in the way that they should go,” and my fervent wish is that they “will not depart from it.”