Spring is the time of confirmations, the church rite that gives a young Christian public opportunity to reaffirm his or her baptismal vows. A baby cannot speak at baptism, but baptism puts the child on the path to learning about the faith God put into its heart. At confirmation the child articulates that faith.
Eight young people were confirmed yesterday at our church. After the service I went to look at the pictures of previous confirmation classes, all the photos nicely hung in a hallway. Eight this year but ten years ago, 2008, there were 18. Twenty years ago, 1998, there were 43. 1998: 30. 1968: 48. While there have been fluctuations through the decades, the trend is clear. Fewer young people are being confirmed. I am not singling out our home church. This downward trend is happening in many congregations.
Another thing often happens: We limit our vision to our own congregation. There are some churches in my denomination that are confirming 40, 50, or more children. People in those congregations may imagine that’s what’s happening in the rest of the denomination! Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.” Church people often assume that whatever is happening locally in their congregation is what’s happening in others. Sometimes yes, often no.
The moral of today’s Minute is that you and I benefit when we get out of the friendly confines of our own congregation to see and learn how it’s going for other believers in the Body of Christ. Paul wrote to the congregation in Thessalonica, “You became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere” (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8). A Sunday field trip to another congregation could be interesting!