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Why it Matters – Terri Elton

Why it Matters is a series of reflections on confirmation and the future church by The Confirmation Project steering team members.


For over ten years I had the opportunity and challenge of leading a large confirmation ministry in a congregation. On the good days, it was pure joy. Having youth wrestle with their ideas about God and church, seeing young people figure out how worship and service fit into a Christian way of life, and working through an intentional “catechesis” process as a community was all good. On the bad days, however, it was just plain hard. Being the law around requirements in a community of grace was confusing; having to defend commitments of the confirmation process in the midst of the community’s deep traditions and rituals was tiring; and balancing peer (and family) pressure with personal investment in the process meant relying on wisdom greater than my years. Too many days I had to be reminded why the church was investing so many resources into this ministry.

Today the challenges are different, but the questions often the same.

Why? What? How? Who? And when? Faithfully answering such questions is bigger than one person, one congregation, or perhaps even one denomination, can do alone.

Why am I excited to be part of this study of the process and practices of confirmation ministry?

Because I think it matters! It matters to church leaders and congregations. It matters to denominations, and the church as a whole. And it matters to young people and their families. We, as a church, with each generation need to inquire about how we will invite them into discovering for themselves their Christian identity and what it means to live “Christian.” I’m not sure what we will discover, and that’s kind of fun. But I do believe looking back into history, looking across denominations, and taking seriously the current challenges and realities will provide insights around what faithfulness looks like in our time. I hope each congregation invited to participate will offer their wisdom. And I hope each denomination will be curious, with us the research team, about how this tradition, rich in history, can be a vibrant ministry for us today.

Written by The Confirmation Project Steering Team Member Terri Elton.  Meet Terri.

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