Stave Off LMW With Sunday Entertainments

March 23, 2014
Scott Gunn

Saturday morning, the world -- or at least the American East Coast -- awoke to the news that Nicholas Ridley had been re-martyred by John of the Cross (79% - 21%). We'd say he "went up in flames" but that might be cringe-worthy as Ridley was, in fact, burned at the stake.

Now begins the long wait for tomorrow's battle between Phillips Brooks and Simeon. While some of the Lent Madness faithful will presumably engage in all-night vigils, we simply encourage you to set your alarm and plan to alert the neighbors as we begin another action-packed week of Lent Madness. It's only a few more hours away, so you don't actually have that much LMW to worry about. Stay strong.

In media coverage, NBC viewers across the nation got their dose of Madness as this clip ran on televisions everywhere.  Meanwhile, Tim gave an interview to Boston Public Radio (forward to 52:35) in which, in an unprecedented move, he went on record saying decent things about Scott (twice!). Time will tell if Scott returns the favor.

Of course, the Archbishops are back with more Color Commentary From Beyond the Grave (tm) as they preview the week ahead and answer viewer mail. Watch LentMadnessTV for more videos from the Archbishops and the Supreme Executive Committee.

This week, we thought we'd introduce you to the perfect confirmation and adult eduction program for fans of Lent Madness. Here's an email Q&A with Laura Darling, Celebrity Blogger and the managing director of Confirm not Conform. Enjoy! Think of this as the entertaining ads in our contest, like in the Superbowl, but with information instead of zillion-dollar marketing glitz.

Give us the tweet: what's awesome about Confirm not Conform?

You started with a tough one! I’m having trouble keeping it tweet-short. I turned this over to our Facebook friends and got a couple of answers: The Rev. Ann Tillman suggested, “Freedom of choice, and fun and creative lessons, among other things.” Denise Oldham, parent of two sons who went through the program, wrote, “Choice, choice, choice. It's all in the hands of the teens, not their parents!!”

So, yes, choice is important because if Confirmation is going to mean something to the Confirmands, they can’t just be going through the motions. They have to actively choose to be confirmed. The goal of Confirm not Conform isn’t getting youth confirmed per se; it’s the much more important goal of helping youth (and adults!) to develop and express authentic faith, whether that means getting confirmed or deciding they are not yet ready to. Both are faithful choices. Hence, Confirm not Conform.

I’d say Confirm not Conform is awesome because “CnC gives youth & adults tools to articulate their faith, because they have something important to share with the church & the world.” There. That’s 134 characters.

Why would a lover of Lent Madness also love CnC?

CnC logoCnC has a faithful irreverence that I think would appeal to the Lent Madness lover. It is not afraid to explore the quirks of our faith, and it doesn’t have a sickly sweet flavor. This isn’t “Captain Billy’s School of Christian Goodness,” as our Executive Director likes to say. When we were trying to come up with a slogan for Confirm not Conform, one thing we came up with was, “It’s not pukey.” We decided to go with “An authentic faith is a strong faith” instead.

CnC also gets people invested and involved, much as Lent Madness does. It’s active, not passive. Even when we’re talking about church history, which so often seems dry, we happily wade into the skullduggery, having people play out (and relish) the political machinations that we might otherwise want to gloss over in order to save our reputation.

Seriously, Lent Madness is magical because it combines fun and formation to teach unsuspecting voters about the lives of the saints. We've heard CnC is a bit...eccentric for a confirmation program. What's its magic?

I think its magic is that it reveals to the greater congregation – and to participants themselves – the deep faith that abides in their hearts. So many times it seems Christian formation is about imposing the right way to be or to act or to believe on top of people. Instead, Confirm not Conform trusts that when people of good faith are allowed to ask questions, to explore their own faith – and other faiths as well – and to share what they have learned with others, the results will be a faithful reflection of where they are, and where God has called them to be.

Over and over again, we have heard from people who have attended the iConfirm service in which youth stand in front of their congregation, recite – from memory! – a passage of Scripture, and then teach on it in their own words, that they had no idea of the depth of wisdom and understanding that comes from within these youth.

With CnC for Adults, it’s slightly different. For them, many times we see that they have never had a chance to ask the questions that have been living in them for years because they were told “This is what you should believe.” The questions were scary. But what going through Confirm not Conform shows them is that the questions are part of being faithful, and that perfect love casts out all fear.

Which saint would love CnC the most, and why?

I always say (and have written on our blog) that St. Thomas the Apostle is the patron saint of Confirm not Conform because he has to see for himself. But I also have to give high credit to the other apostles who set a good example for us about what to do when there’s a skeptic in our midst. To all appearances, they didn’t let that bother them and just carried on being his friend, even though he didn’t believe them, and let him come to his own knowledge and experience in his own time.

How can I learn more?

The best way is to check out our website,, where you can read more about the program, download sample sessions, sign up for our enewsletter, and browse through our blog. We also have a Slideshare presentation that explains more about our principles and philosophy.

People are also welcome to contact me directly with questions ( And of course, you can follow us on Twitter @I_confirm or on Facebook or Pinterest.

How do I buy it, and what's it cost?

We have this publisher you may have heard of called Forward Movement. You can call them at 1-800-543-1813 Monday through Friday, 8:30-4:30 EST. Or you can order online either by emailing or on the Forward Movement website, just search for Confirm not Conform – though I’d suggest you specify your denomination to cut down on the search results.

The cost is based on Average Sunday Attendance and ranges from $149 for the smallest churches to $699 for the largest. And if people are gulping when seeing those prices, just know that it’s a one-time purchase for your congregation. You can print as many copies as you like, use it as many times as you like, and you have access to program support in the form of actual people who developed the program. Plus it also has been tested and is very successful.

More than a confirmation program, it’s a congregational development program. CnC incorporates youth into the full life of the church and demonstrates to the adults in the congregation that youth are full members with gifts and skills to contribute. I’m not sure there’s any other confirmation program out there that does that.


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22 comments on “Stave Off LMW With Sunday Entertainments”

  1. Good afternoon. I have just finished listening to Rev. Schenk's radio spot and to the Archbishop's prediction for this week. All I can say is THANK YOU for rounding out my Sunday for me with such wonderful stuff. I am sooo ready for the week to begin!!!!

  2. Planning for next year. Hmmmmm. Good idea to plan ahead. Maybe Fred Rogers? (Nag nag nag!!)

  3. I love it! Confirm not conform. We have to give a choice. Once they choose, we have a real shot at keeping them

  4. I am just wondering...Would it be possible to make this years mug a bit more interesting? Not to offend the artist but it seems that we could provide a more ethereal portrait of an honor as astounding as wearing the golden crown. also as a collector just wondering where i might get back year winning mugs. I only have Mary Magdalene. I have scoured e-bay with no luck. These mugs must truly be valuable and people must be hoarding them.

  5. To the archbishop's and the sec: no , I bloody well WILL NOT stop harping on about Fred Rogers and don't give me that sanctimonious rot about him needing to be dead 50 years !!!!!! I have heard some really lame excuses in my 60+ years on this "mortal coil"(Shakespeare) but this not only takes the cake, but also lights the candles, blows said candles out and cuts the first piece for crying out loud!!!!! Give me a bloomin' break already!!!

    1. Hmmm...I note that 2013 Lent Madness alum Oscar Romero died in 1980. If my math skills serve me correctly, that's a mere 34 years ago. And he's been in the calendar a while. I call shenanigans. (And add flame to the fire.)

      But seriously, that 50 year rule is not at all hard and fast. Thurgood Marshall is also in our calendar, and he died in 1993, for Pete's sake. He was added to the Episcopal Church's calendar in 2009, a mere 16 years after his death.

  6. To the archbishop's and the sec: no I will not bloody well stop! Once I get the bit in my teeth it bloody well stays there so don't give me that sanctimonious rot about him needing to be dead 50 years. Sheesh.

  7. You see, it's actually pretty simple. You put Fred Rogers on the
    Bracket Next Year, and regardless of the outcome I will cease to nag you. If on the other hand, you enjoy listening to a broken record, I'm really good at that too. As I'm sure you are aware. Peace! 🙂

  8. I seem to recall that Clive Staples "Jack" Lewis was added to TEC's calendar less than fifty years after he died. He's in 2009's "Holy Women Holy Men" despite the fact he died on 22 November 1963. 2009-1963=46. And it isn't like Constitutions & Cannons is written in stone or anything. It can be changed.

  9. Contrary to public opinion, I don't tilt at every windmill I come across(Cervantes), but when I tilt I Bloody well tilt!

  10. Barbara, I'm ashamed that I didn't think of it myself. Excellent idea! I'm going to nag Pope Francis!!!!!!!!! Can-o-nize! Can-o-nize! Can-o-nize! Can-o-nize! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Let me know how I can help. I am willing to take to the street if necessary. Hey, if the pope won't do it maybe Bishop Schori will.

      1. Is Bishop Schori amenable? Thanks for being in my corner....the sec doesn't seem to be listening(sound of crickets here)......

        1. We won't know until we ask. The SEC needs to get on board or they will be hiding their heads in shame when Fred wears the golden halo.

  11. Indeed they will be. Scott/Tim,are? You?listening? I refuse to give up! I will fight the good fight! Fred Rogers deserves a spot on the bracket and you bloody well know it!!!!!