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Chris Yaw Interviews Laura Toepfer: Keep Young People by Confirming Not Conforming

June 21, 2013


Keeping young people coming to church after they've been confirmed is an ongoing problem for many congregations - but it's even less so for faith communities that are using an increasingly popular curriculum called 'Confirm Not Conform.'

Laura Toepfer runs the project, which has been used by more than 500 churches, and says the percentage of youngsters who stick around after Confirmation, is sizeable.

In this interview Laura talks about why Confirmation is an important rite of passage for young Christians and how congregations can more easily involve young people in the life of the church.


Watch the Full Program BELOW.

Rather Listen? Click here to download the Mp3 to your mobile device.

Laura Toepfer is on a mission to see young Christians grow into the fullness of their faith. Here are my notes from the interview:

Let THEM Articulate Their Faith
Laura says too many Confirmation courses are about memorizing doctrine and passing tests, when they should be about assisting young people in the crucial endeavor of articulating and owning their faith. Not unlike a Jewish Bar Mitzvah, her program combines rigor and commitment to go the distance.

'What If I Say No?'
Some young people go through Confirm Not Conform only to find out they don't want to be confirmed. Laura says it's just as crucial to celebrate this decision (there's a liturgy to do this) as it is to celebrate those who do want to be confirmed. How well does your congregation connect with those on a different faith journey?

The Ladder of Youth Participation
If your church is not attracting younger people it may be because you're not letting them get really involved. Check out this Ladder of Participation and hear what Laura's trying to do to inspire congregations to give young people more than lip service.

About Laura Toepfer
Laura Toepfer is the Managing Director of Confirm not Conform, an organization that provides educational materials to help both youth and adults ask their questions and then share their answers with the church. She is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of California who has served in youth and college ministries as well as parish ministry. She preaches through Northern California - and elsewhere, if you wish! In 2008, Laura was part of one of the first class of Kiva Fellows, working with microfinance institutions in Kampala, Uganda. A 1990 graduate of Oberlin College, Laura also worked as a sign language interpreter before attending seminary. She blogs at at her personal blog, The Infusion

Books Laura Recommends 
Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church
Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Taken with permission from


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