The students I work with, like the students you work with, are committed to many valuable things. In addition to their families and their schoolwork, they have dance rehearsal, lacrosse practice, and, of course, church. They also are devoted friends to their peers.
Church is not the most elevated activity in their lives. It’s not even the most important extra-family, extra-curricular activity. I’ve made my peace with that. First I stopped insisting that church should trump soccer and band out loud, and then I stopped complaining that it didn’t to my colleagues and thinking that it should to myself. I started to say that church should be the thing that backs down.
So now when parents ask me, “How important is the Confirmation retreat?” because Arthur has Friday night football, my answer is that it’s important for sure. But it’s not required. How could it be required? What will the church take away if Arthur doesn’t come? Football will bench him for skipping. Church won’t.
So Arthur comes on Saturday morning, driven three pre-dawn hours by his dad. He joins 17 of his peers there. That’s only about half the Confirmation class, but nonetheless it’s 18 8th graders, many completely unknown to one another, voluntarily sequestering themselves at a church camp for an entire September weekend. That feels pretty huge.
Maybe when the church backs down teenagers step up.