I’m fooling around with the structure of 8th grade Confirmation, because the structure I inherited is too good for me. It contains years of organization and established processes that reflect deep thinking. The team of volunteers know it and can faithfully lead it.
And here I go tinkering with it.
The major tweak is to give myself more face-to-face time with students in the form of bi-weekly salon-style lectures on topics extracted from the Brief Statement of Faith. In odd weeks, then, I’m preparing conversation guides for the volunteers and their Circle Groups. It’s not a perfect system. Yet. It’s not even one I intended to design.
Last month I designed a session on The Crucifixion that followed our conventional pattern: 20 minutes of introductory remarks from me followed by 30 minutes of Circle Group discussion. But 10 minutes into my time students started asking questions. Some back-and-forth ensued, and when my time was up I hadn’t covered half of what I needed to. So, on the fly, I decided to push the Circle Group discussion to the following week and spend the rest of the hour mixing it up with 8th graders about Jesus’ death.
It was fun. So for yesterday’s Resurrection discussion, I planned mostly Q&A. I put a simple guide (below) together using Kim Fabricius’ “10 Propositions on The Resurrection,” and off we went. It wasn’t flawless; it took into the third or fourth proposition for students to take the bait and start asking questions. But once they did the rest of the time flew, and with interesting stuff. One of them offered the concept of zero gravity as an analog to proposition 4. Another refuted that. Fun.
But not for everyone. As with all curriculum, the approach resonates with some, not all, participants. The challenge is to introduce elements in subsequent sessions that draw on different aptitudes and intelligences: kinesthetic, verbal, etc. But it feels better right now to build those in week-to-week and to not attempt to represent all of them in every session.
This doesn’t work without those volunteers’ willingness to adapt what they’re used to doing. That’s a big ask. This is an already intensive program that demands loads of time and energy from adult leaders. If this is too disruptive for them, I’ll have to take that seriously.