My friend Jason Micheli blogged yesterday on the anxiety of parents whose kids have fallen away from Christianity. It’s a topic I often have in the back of my mind in confirmation season. One of the most painful statistic to look at for our church is the number of kids whose last Sunday in church was the day they were confirmed. We retain about a quarter to a third of the kids we confirm. We’ve tried a lot of different strategies for addressing the problem. I wanted to share a quote from Jason that really seems to nail it, though I’m not sure exactly how to address what he’s naming.
The whole manner of reducing Christianity to a belief that our children have or do not have is part of the problem. Christians are disciples, apprentices, followers. We’re not believers. It’s not about making up our minds one way or the other but giving to our lives a Christ-like pattern that calls them to sacrificial living.
This is basically a different way of saying what James K.A. Smith has been saying about the way that humans are not really propositional, rational creatures so much as we are liturgical. We need to be mentored and shown what discipleship looks like rather than just having our heads filled with ideas. I very much agree with Jason that we need to be disciples rather than just believers. If the purpose of church is to instill an ideology in its attendees, whether it’s a conservative or liberal ideology, there’s not much of a reason to go. I’m very interested in exploring what a confirmation process looks like that is more focused on cultivating disciples than imparting propositional beliefs.