I've been waiting four years (the number of years I've been working directly with confirmation classes) for this to happen. My senior pastor in Michigan used to tell the class it was an option every year, and said he'd never had anyone say it either.

I'd messaged a student to ask for some feedback on our confirmation class, and my student wrote back to me, "I just don't want to be confirmed."

I'll tell you why I was thrilled about this.

Confirmands make promises. It's not just what they promise their youth minister that matters, it's that they promise their congregation and their God that they will, among other things, "continue in the apostles' teaching, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers," something that new members have promised to do since the church in Acts.

Every year, at least one confirmand makes those promises without intending to keep them. Every year, a few of them drift away after confirmation, without really thinking about what a serious breach they're creating between their promises and their actions. Especially in mainline churches, the temptation is to see confirmation as just another ritual, and go through the motions to make your parents happy. (That's a whole separate problem, by the way, not something I'm happy about or working to allow.)

So I'm thrilled because someone finally said, "This just isn't for me." We're not going to lose track of this student. But admitting honest doubt is, even if the doubter doesn't realize it, a step toward honest faith. Someone who says, "No" isn't always saying "Never" but often "I need more time."

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