As I was driving into work this morning, I noticed the sign in front of the Lutheran church that read, “God bless our Confirmands.”
Lest you be amazed at my…well…lack of knowledge…please know that confirmand is not a word in Baptist vocabulary. At least, not in contemporary Baptist language. Neither is creed, catechism, eucharist, litany, homily, and an entire panoply of words that any good liturgand would know (‘liturgand’ is not a real word…but, hey, it sounds like it should be).
Many denominations require confirmation of a new believer. Obviously, the Lutherans do. As do Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, and Anglicans. Generally, churches that practice paedo-baptism (infant baptism) will require confirmation, offered to children 9-13 years-old (although anyone can participate). The Catholic Church requires confirmation of its young members and, in their case, it’s sacramental.
When I made my profession of faith at 8 years-old, I did not attend confirmation class. In a sense, though, my meeting with my pastor, Bro. Banks Hardy, was my confirmation class. I remember, as he explained the gospel to me, his drawings of the cross he made as he explained Christ’s death…for me.
So, I suppose, in a sense, at 8 years-old, I was a…confirmand.
The definition of confirmand is simple. A confirmand is someone who is a candidate for religious confirmation. In the liturgical sense, I understand that. I guess what I don’t understand is the systemic, pragmatic approach a confirmation class takes to salvation. It reminds me of “revival meetings”, held yearly, calling on God to bring revival, usually sometime in September. I think God will bring revival when He wills it.
He’ll save a soul when He wills it, as well.
Which is why I appreciate the efforts of our children’s minister, Karen Jones. The process she has put in place here at Third Baptist is more affirmation, than confirmation.
When a child expresses a desire to be saved, or is asking questions about Christ’s death on the cross, Karen will provide the parents with a process that helps the parents and the child walk through the journey of affirming salvation. According to Karen, “parents are the spiritual leaders” and must take the lead in this affirmation process.
There are requirements. She asks that the dad lead the sessions, since he is, biblically, the spiritual leader of the home. There are 5 sessions to go through, and Karen asks that the sessions be completed no sooner than two weeks and take no longer than a month.
There are 5 sessions, based on Preparing Young People for Baptism: 1) accountability to God, 2) a review of the Gospel, 3) affirmation, 4) a written testimony, and 5) the meaning and significance of baptism.
Once the sessions are completed, Karen meets with the child to make sure that the child is “motivated by a conviction of sin”, and to “discern they have truly trusted Christ.”
After baptism, Karen meets with the new believers together once or twice a year to review the Gospel, to talk about salvation (and words like regeneration, justification, sanctification, glorification), and discuss the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, worship, the Church, and using their platform to share Jesus.
So, while we Baptists don’t celebrate, in the sense of a word, confirmands, we do rejoice in the affirmands, those we affirm in their response to follow Christ.