Confirmation is not a graduation

The sight of anxious teenagers adorned in scarlet gowns could trick anyone into mistaking confirmation for graduation. The similarities between the two are uncanny: the formal invitations, the personalized cake, even the attire (minus the cap). But there’s a major difference that even the students sometimes miss: confirmation isn’t a graduation from church.

I remember my own confirmation from two years ago. I’d just gotten my braces and felt incredibly awkward. I remember being squished into a single pew and sweating through my red gown. I remember the happiness I felt knowing I would never have to fill out another sermon note. But at the time, I didn’t realize that for some of my classmates, this was the last time they would be attending a church service for quite a while.

After putting extra time in every Wednesday during confirmation classes for two years and filling out dozens of sermon notes, those classmates just disappeared. Of course, some make appearances on Easter and Christmas, but the majority aren’t “regulars” at church.

I am guilty of this myself. In the fall, I would blame the early morning wake up calls that school reintroduced. In the winter, I would blame dance competitions from the previous day for wearing me out. But now that spring has rolled around, I have run out of excuses for my laziness. I can’t explain why or how my motivation to go to church got so low, but looking back on all the time I spent working towards getting confirmed, I feel bad about my lack of attendance.

The decline of confirmees attending churches has been a common occurrence for as long as I can remember. However, my mom remembers her time during and after confirmation differently. She told me that confirmation was ”just what you did” back then and and she saw her class every Sunday after.

Pastors are aware of the issue; Some have even come to expect it. Out of all the things said during my confirmation service, one thing still sticks out. To paraphrase, my pastor told us that confirmation does not mean we are graduating from the church. But as far as I know, my peers might have just been ignoring the sermon and wondering when it would be over.

As I look forward to my younger brother’s upcoming confirmation, I hope the affirmations he and his peers make stay with them and aren’t soon forgotten. Confirmation isn’t meant to be a one-day deal and then you’re done; it’s supposed to be a meaningful lifetime commitment. When my brother looks back at his confirmation photo in the coming years, I hope he sees familiar faces staring back at him, and not a bunch of kids he once knew.

Alex Smith is a junior at Austin High School involved in dance team, National Honor Society and the Sentinel student newspaper.

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