Why Do We Profess Our Faith?

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Last week I attended the Rethinking Confirmation conference at Luther Seminary. I had the opportunity to hear how people very similar to and different from myself are raising up young people in faith. Following this experience, I have some stories to share and some questions to ask.

I will continue to post about what I learned at the conference but I want to start with some fundamental questions: What is profession of faith and why do we do it?

The practice of profession of faith emerges from a complicated history laced with confusion and mediocre compromises. As a result of such a complicated history, we often find muddled and conflicting approaches to profession of faith within our denomination and our congregations.

Three of the keynote speakers presented their purposes for confirmation. These simple statements guide every aspect of their programs and reflect both their theology and their context.

Lisa Kimball (Episcopal)
Confirmation Is:

  • Renouncing
  • Committing
  • Response of the community

Ralph Williamson (AME)
Confirmation:

  • Tethers (in faith)
  • Orients (the way to go)
  • Fulfills (our command to train up our youth)

Teri Chalker (United Methodist)
Confirmation is guided by Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I was left wondering how we might summarize and guide our own programs. After three days of consideration, I am closer to an answer but mostly I am eager to discuss the fundamental principles of profession of faith.    

At the denominational level:

  • What principles guide our theology?
  • What lies at the core of this process?

And in your church:

  • How does your church communicate the purpose of profession of faith?
  • How can we present profession of faith as a valuable milestone of lifelong faith formation?
  • How can we embrace tradition while not settling for “the way we’ve always done it?”

I will continue to post stories and questions from the conference. In the mean time, I encourage you to discuss these questions with your church and your community.

See: A concise history of Profession of Faith as described by the Confirmation Project

Note: This Lutheran conference was about “confirmation and equivalent practices” and so I will refer to profession of faith, our denomination’s name for this practice, as well as confirmation.

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One of the old time hymns of David has a line about going to the Temple to fulfill our vows. To me, it is a very important concept of faith formation. I get a good "gut feeling" when in a church even when the sanctuary is empty.