Last month we had the privilege to confirm five young people and welcome them into church membership. One of the things emphasized in Confirmation is that being confirmed is not the end of the journey. It is just one milestone in a long faith walk. It is the sincere hope that the confirmation process equips the young people so that they can faithfully grow in better following Jesus. However, that is not something they are supposed to do on their own.
When the young people were confirmed, the congregation responded to them with the following words: “We will surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness, that they may grow in their trust of God, and be found faithful in their service to others. We will pray for them, that they may be true disciples who walk in the way that leads to life.”
This is an important commitment that makes a lasting impact. A landmark Barna research study from a few years ago found that once young people graduate high school there is a key predictor if that person will stay involved in a faith community. Of young people that stay engaged in church 59% reported having an adult friend in the church. Of the young people who did not stay engaged in a faith community 70% reported never having a friendship with an adult in the church. To honor the commitment to surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness requires investing in making room for meaningful relationships. It requires taking the time so that our newest members know that you care for them.
The other part of the commitment that you as the congregation made during confirmation is to pray for the new members. This is something that every single one of us can do. Meaningful relationships cannot be forced, but we all can be intentional in praying for newest and youngest members. We can pray that they may be true disciples and we should pray for them by name. If you need a reminder, their names are Avaree Johnston, Emaree Johnston, Connor Johnson, Lilyan Mann, and Isabelle Mann. Please pray that they will walk in the way that leads to life and please pray for them regularly.
The bible stresses on multiple occasions that our faith is best experienced and greatly enhanced by being part of a faith community. All of us have a responsibility to help create a community of love and forgiveness. There is an old proverb that states it takes a village to raise a child. If that is true, then it takes a church to make a disciple. May we all be willing to pray and invest in the lives of our newest members so that as their first faith community we can set them up for a life time of following Jesus.