The goal of this project is to explore the relationship between historic spiritual disciplines and the development of an adolescent’s Christian identity. This is to be accomplished by implementing a modern adaptation of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius into an existing adolescent small group. It is believed that the practices contained in the Spiritual Exercises enable an adolescent to embrace the reality that they are created by God, rebellious against God, reconciled to God, and called to participate in the mission of God. This thesis is tested at Grand Ledge Baptist Church in Grand Ledge, Michigan.
The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius consist of meditative and contemplative prayer exercises based upon four biblical movements. These movements include human sinfulness and the love of God, the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the death of Jesus Christ, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each week adolescents gather to experience one of these exercises individually and reflect upon the exercise as a group. They are also provided daily exercises to complete on their own throughout the week. All exercises are taken from Larry Warner’s Journey with Jesus. Following completion of the project, the influence of the Spiritual Exercises on identity formation is analyzed.
This study concludes that the practice of the Spiritual Exercises did influence an adolescent’s Christian identity. Adolescents indicated that this program provided a new and fresh experience with God and their relationship with him. Furthermore, they regularly practiced disciplines that can be incorporated into their own lives. However, due to the extended period of adolescence and the constant barrage of voices seeking to influence their identity, the long-term impact of this project cannot be determined. Therefore, elements of this project should be incorporated into the ongoing ministry to adolescents at Grand Ledge Baptist Church.
Theological Mentor: Kurt Fredrickson, PhD
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McLaughlin, Brian M., "Nurturing a Christian Identity in Adolescents at Grand Ledge Baptist Church" (2014). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 154.