For more than 40 years I led Confirmation programs.
I resisted calling them classes.
They were more conversations or explorations.
My goal was less to teach high school students something about the history and doctrine of the Christian church as it was to help them reimagine God and the place of faith in their lives and what it might mean to follow Jesus and not just believe in him.
This past year, through the program ministry of Holmes Camp and Retreat Center, a friend and I led an online Confirmation program both as a response to the Covid pandemic, and as a way to provide a Confirmation experience for youth in smaller congregations. As we wrapped up the program, we invited two other friends – a middle aged white man and a 23 year old African-American woman – to join our conversation and to respond to questions which the group had brainstormed the week before. It was engaging to listen to how both of them talked about the place of faith in their lives and how their understanding of God had changed over time and what it meant for them to follow Jesus. But, it was one of the final comments made by the young woman which most caught my attention. “I also think of church as a verb,” she said. It was a follow up comment to the reflection that one way to think of God is as a verb – what God does – instead of a noun – who God is.
Church as a verb.
I like that.
I have long resisted and backed away from saying something like:
I’m going or we’re going to church.
Saying that too easily relegates church to what we do for an hour or so on Sunday morning.
Instead church should be a verb.
So that anywhere we see or embody compassion or caring or kindness…
Anywhere we see or embody creativity or welcome or a striving for justice…
There is church.
So quit going to church.
Instead, see it and name it and be it and do it.