This past Sunday's worship service was a joyous occasion as nine junior high students publicly declared their trust in Jesus and their desire to follow Him.
What I enjoy about confirmation is the chance to spend a large block of time investing in students' spiritual life.
I think this was the fourth group of kids I've taken through confirmation. Each experience is different. Each time I try new things. In the past, I had students use a devotional book alongside their Bible, to teach them the habit of spending regular time with God in His Word. This time around, I wrote up "talksheets" and had the students read selected Scriptures--starting with Genesis 1 and ending with Jesus' ascension. In short, I tried to convey to the students a story--God's glorious epic of creation, sin, salvation, and restoration.
What influenced me to emphasize to my students God's story was an article that first appeared in Christianity Today in February 2004, by Walter Wangerin Jr. entitled, "Making Disciples by Sacred Story."
Wangerin writes: "Biblical storytelling conveys the realities of our faith better than almost any other form of communication...Religions do exist without doctrines and theologies, but no religion has ever existed without a story at its core."
Here a few resources that helped me think about what God is doing as a story:
Epic, by John Eldredge (Nelson, 2004)
The Drama of Scripture, by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen (Baker, 2004)
The Divine Drama, by Kurt Bruner (Tyndale, 2001)
A Passion for God's Story, by Philip Greenslade (Paternoster, 2002)
The Story Factor, by Annette Simmons (Perseus, 2001)
Today on Christian radio, I happened to hear Nancy Pearcy say that Christianity is tolerated in our culture because its perceived as a nice story. It's comforting, but it has no actual relevance to life.
While the Bible tells a story, it certainly isn't fiction. It's real. Hopefully for my confirmation students, it's a story confirmed.