Home > Training, Youth Ministry > What Age is Right for Confirmation?

What Age is Right for Confirmation?

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

When conducting Intentional Discipleship planning retreats, I get asked this question every time.  For that matter, I get asked this question every time I sit down and talk shop with another youth minister about their program for more than 15 minutes.

I personally believe that there are some developmental factors that should influence our decision, but I also believe their our some guiding theological principals that impact it as well.  I’m hoping you will give some feedback in the comment section as YMtoday.com is looking at this topic next week and we’d love your input.

Next week, I plan to explore what should be taught in confirmation; but today simply trying to answer the question what age is the right age for confirmation will do.

I’ve seen churches go as young as 6th grade and as old as 10th grade not including the churches that have a second confirmation that includes any high school student.  Let’s explore by simply asking the questions?

Is 6th Grade is Too Young or Just Right?

Too Young – Some churches have made confirmation into their tween ministry.  The do not believe these young people are old enough for middle school topics, but they believe they are ready for faith decisions? Can I get a little C&C Music Factory “Things that make you go hmmm!”  Developmentally 6th graders are not yet capable of thinking abstractly.  I personally think this is an important developmental transition.  Most also are operating Fowler’s Literal faith stage meaning they have not owned their faith.  They take everything we offer them on trust.  I’m usually more proud of a student who decides not to be confirmed, because I know they at least made a decision.

Just Right – Others would argue that 6th grade is the perfect time because confirmation can be an instigator moving a youth towards Fowler’s Conventional Faith.  Students are more open to hearing because they have not become as independent in their relationships with peers, parents, and the church.

7th or 8th Grade Good or Bad?

Good – The positive of having confirmation with 7th or 8th graders is that they are in the middle of identity formation.  They are transitioning to abstract thinkers.  They are inquisitive.  What better time for them to study Jesus, understand whose they are, and make a commitment.

Bad – Too much identity formation is taking place.  The boys are squirrelly and the girls are mean.   Because of all the changes taking place socially and physically trying to understand their relationship with God may add to the confussion.

9th Grade Too Late or Just Right?

Too Late – Half of them are gone already?  They are now too busy to participate at the level of accountability confirmation demands.  They have too many questions that can’t be answered.

Just Right – They are more mature and ready to explore the intricacies of their faith.  They are testing the boundaries of adulthood and therefore are ready for Conventional Faith and can really understand and own their decision.  They ask tough questions.  Life is expanding and making a commitment now forces them to learn how to live faithfully.

Ok, I tried not to be biased; but it came out anyway.  I really like 9th grade second semester as a time of confirmation under our current model for the reasons above.  But I much bigger question is does our current model work?  I look forward to exploring that next week.  I know we are all looking for Good confirmation curriculum which is a tell tale sign that we don’t like what we are doing.

As a foreword for next week, I believe that the early church catechist did a lot of things that we have abandoned.  I also believe that we must re-confirm our beliefs everyday and so we need to be constantly helping our students grow in their understanding of what their commitment to Christ means.  So let’s have confirmation every year maybe then it will take!

Growing Together – At what age does your church do confirmation?  What age would you do it at if you could change it?  Take the Poll.

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  1. emergingyouth
    September 20, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    This is our first year experimenting with confirmation. In fact, I believe our youth program is the only one in our denomination doing it.
    Ideally, we are moving towards confirmation open to 7-8th graders. This gives teenagers a choice between their 7th and 8th grade year, based on their level of interest, maturity, and availability.

    Since this is our first year and we don’t want to deprive the older students of it, we are opening it up as a Sunday AM option for 8-12th graders.

    • September 20, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      Dan, thanks for jumping in the conversation. My church does 6th grade. We also offer what we call Youth Confirmation for 7-12th graders. I offer a short curriculum 6 weeks to help students understand the decision they are making. We figure that we can catch them as we cover discipleship topics in youth group.

      I hope your approach goes well.

      • Jill Chung
        March 12, 2013 at 7:35 am

        Hi, I am children leader and urgently looking confirmation curriculum. Would you mind to email your example for me to look? Jill albisme712@hotmail.com.tw

  1. September 27, 2010 at 9:00 am

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