Confirmation and Empowerment

The following is the introduction to Session 11 of the Confirm not Conform program. The session is called The Issue of Power and directly the addresses the question of what power is and how it can be used and abused. This may sound like a strange topic for a confirmation program, but we think it's crucial. Because we believe strongly in empowering youth, we think it's very important for youth to understand power dymanics (and it does no harm for adults to understand them either). This session explores a topic we have rarely seen addressed in our churches. We hope that in talking about power we can begin to give youth - and adults - additional tools they can use to act on their baptismal promises.

Session 11: Faith in Action: The Issue of Power

Theological Statement

Confirmation is about making a choice; making a choice implies having the power to do so and making use of that power. This session will focus on the role that power plays in living out our call to be Christ’s body in the world.

The Bible tells us again and again that we are to act in the world. Often, however, we find ourselves paralyzed—by fear, by doubt, by our own comfort with the status quo. We might not recognize the power we have. Even if we do recognize it, we sometimes give it away all too easily to those who either demand it of us or know the right way to ask. We are cowed by the responsibility that comes with our actions or we give up our efforts at the first sign of an obstacle.

Youth, in particular, often feel powerless. This session begins by uncovering their assumptions about power and their ability to exercise it. It then demonstrates how easily power can be given up or taken away, before moving into a discussion of individual power vs. the power of community.

Can we talk about power if we do not also talk about power differentials, about race and gender, about history, and about context? We know that in a 90-minute session we cannot possibly hope to do more than introduce the topic. We invite you to consider how you can create a space for deeper reflection on these important issues in your faith community.

We also realize that this session assumes that all those in attendance come from a household that is safe and loving. Issues of power may have a very different meaning and impact on those who experience abuse or neglect. For some youth, claiming their power comes at a real physical or emotional cost in their own homes. We encourage you to be sensitive to this possibility as you lead these discussions. 

With all this in mind, we still believe it is important to discuss the topic of power. By the end of the session, youth will have chosen a specific charity they will be asking the church leadership – on behalf of the larger community – to support. This project will show youth that they do have power within their faith community and that their power is at its strongest when used in community – the  message Jesus taught again and again.