Youth minister Christopher Wesley suggests our confirmands need "more than another graduation."
Christopher Wesley is a youth ministry coach and consultant with Marathon Youth Ministry. In that capacity he has had the opportunity to see first-hand where the church is doing well with the catechesis of her youth, and where she needs to step up her game.
One area Wesley has identified as seriously needing attention and perhaps restructuring is in her sacramental preparation, particularly as regards the sacrament of Confirmation. All too often Confirmation is seen as a kind of “Catholic graduation” from parish catechetical programs, and that mindset reinforces the notion that now our teenagers are “done” learning about (and practicing) the faith.
His latest book, Rebuilding Confirmation: Because We Need More Than Another Graduation, grew out of his experiences and observations.
What inspired the book?
After the release of Rebuilding Youth Ministry, I received countless questions regarding Confirmation preparation. A lot of those questions turned into conversations about strategy and growing.
I wrote the book because I wanted to inspire more conversations because it’s in those conversations where we can give each other hope about what we could actually do to improve sacramental preparation.
What story or anecdote (or piece of advice) in this book most personally resonated with you?
The letters written to the bishop have a special place in my heart. There have been times over the years where I wondered, “Am I making a difference?” Those letters affirmed when I was and showed me where we could do more.
The letters were not only a means of creating a better program but the sharing of life change. Whenever you witness life change it inspires you to keep going deeper with Christ.
Did writing this book teach you anything?
It taught me that there is still so much I have left to learn. I learned a lot about different styles of preparation. I learned that there is a lot of content out there, but not a lot about implementation or strategy.
After I finished writing Rebuilding Confirmation, I remember being excited for people’s responses and ideas. I’m hoping this book inspires people to share their strategies and how they’ve overcome obstacles. The more we talk about the situation in a constructive way the better we can tackle the problems.
If there is one person you want to reach with this book, who would that be?
Everyone. I don’t think we can rebuild Confirmation by relying on one person. This is an “all hands on deck” challenge that we, the Church, need to embrace. I want people to start looking at the structures that are in place. We need to look at creating systems that encourage relational and engaging catechesis.
What is the ideal beverage to have in hand while reading your book?
WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey (10-year edition) done neat. No exceptions.