• Reviewing the week
• Looking at Confirmation
• Order of Service
• Membership of Christ's
• Gifts for service
• Where do we go from here?
This final session is vital to the whole process of preparing persons for confirmed membership. At the beginning of session 1, we specifically stated, "Coming here does not commit you to entering confirmed membership of the Uniting Church. But it is an indication of your desire to learn more about what is involved in Church membership. I am making no assumptions about your intentions, even though my prayer is that you will come to that further commitment." It is in this session that the readiness and intention of each person in the class need to be established.
I believe that it is most helpful if there is not too long a gap between this session and the Service of Confirmation (to take place at a Communion Service). There needs to be some forethought about processes here. Since the Council of Elders has responsibility for accepting persons as confirmed members, I suggest the following procedure be adopted - and especially where unreasonable delay would be caused waiting for a regular meeting of the Elders. (1) Report the names of prospective confirmees to the Elders. (2) Seek provisional approval for their confirmation on a specified date. (3) Have one or two Elders appointed to be part of this final session to confirm approval of the decision. (4) Involve this Elder/s in the service of Confirmation. (It is sometimes possible to have an Elder/s present for the whole series.)
The particular Order of Service for Confirmation used in this session was originally prepared for use in the Balmoral Parish in Brisbane where we had a class of over thirty people including a number who wanted to reaffirm their vows and others whose names were being added to the rolls by restoration or transfer. Permission is freely given for this Order of Service to be copied and used at your discretion. There is no reason why another order of service cannot be used in this session - except that I cannot grant you the photocopying rights!
□ Reviewing the week
Spend time reflecting on the insights that the Bible readings have given into the nature and mission of the Church.
Reflect on the three highlighted elements of confirmed membership - (1) a confirmation of God's promises to us, (2) a deeper commitment to faith and service and (3) an acknowledgment of gifts and involvement in ministry.
□ Looking at Confirmation
□ Read right through the Order of Service for Confirmation.
□ After reading through the service, go back and take note of the questions asked.
□ In the service, questions are asked whether you
- Believe in God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
- Acknowledge Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord, and determine to follow him.
- Promise to fulfil your duties as a member of the Church, to participate in public worship and in Holy Communion, to pray and to read the Bible.
- Promise to devote your life to the service of God and your neighbour.
□ Ask the members of the group whether they have been baptised, explaining that any who have not can be baptised "either prior to or in conjunction with the confirmation."
□ This is an important opportunity to emphasise the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The "laying on of hands" is no mere formality. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit who already resides within them will fill them - "to form, control and permeate their personalities - to the end that they will exhibit increasingly the 'fruit of the Spirit' and also the 'gifts of the Spirit' to be functioning parts of Christ's body, sharing in his witness and service."
□ Read through and reflect on Gal.5.22-23 and Eph.4.11-13.
□ Membership of Christ's Body
□ Membership of Christ's Body, the Church, is a high privilege which also brings to us an active responsibility. We already have too many who would like to called the "pillars" of the Church who are in effect the "pillows" of the Church. A body can only be active when all its members - designed for diverse tasks are functioning properly. Christ's design for his Body is that all the members have diverse gifts which are to contribute to the well-being and effective functioning of the whole Body.
□ What are my gifts for service? What is written here will not be a final answer. However, it is important at the point of confirmation to begin a lifetime of openness to discovering and using the gifts God has given us.
□ Where do we go from here?
□ "The choice to move forward into confirmed membership is over to you!" Consider that choice with the whole group. Ascertain those who are ready to make next step. Be sensitive to those who need more time - and more counsel.
□ Commend the practice of having a regular time for systematic and prayerful study of the Scriptures. Indicate the availability of Scripture Union or other notes to help stimulate and promote this regular study.
© Peter J Blackburn 1995, 1999