I had a fascinating conversation with my counterpart from the Swedish Diocese of Växjö today, specifically on the subject of Confirmation.
In their Diocese confirmation is still in many ways a cultural norm, however the churches commitment to it is HUGE and Växjö confirm 52.6% of 15 year olds in their Diocese (higher than any other Swedish Diocese). As you can imagine I was keen to explore this given my previously stated criticism that in this country we often Confirm too young, and then with not enough thought to the connection with discipleship, calling, rite of passage and faith exploration, delivering the preparation in a very didactic style.
Two years ago in Sweden the Bishops set clear rules for confirmation, among which were that:
- Confirmation has to connect with Baptism
- It is a rite of passage
- It is a service to young people helping them to explore identity, identity in faith and identity in community
- Confirmation is not for those below 15
The commitment to the process is massive in terms of training, people involved, time and emphasis on participation. There is thought to before, during and after with a well thought out opportunity for belonging and working with the church post confirmation.
There are still a large number that choose not to belong post-confirmation so their process is not the be all and end all. I love their HUGE investment in young people though and their heart to serve and explore with young people. There is a lot we can glean/learn from their model methinks.