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Kris Fernhout

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The goal of this study was to examine the impact of materialism on the individuation spiritual formation of adolescents. It was argued western culture is predicated on a culture of consumption and that people form their identity around the symbols and objects that they own, what they consume and how they appear to others. Strategies for resistance of the temptation to form and project identity in this way was the goal of this study.

This study was comprised of four areas of study. First, was a study of the history of materialism, the church’s involvement, the current state of adolescent consumption and how materialism has affected the church’s mission. Second, an examination of biblical teaching on people, power and possessions was done. Third, how individuation has been impacted by a culture of consumption. Fourth, a strategy designed to resist the utilization of consumption in the task of identity cultivation and projection. This study concluded that in a culture of rapid change, adolescents are forced into a reflexive posture in their identity formation. To efficiently respond to rapid and continual change they engage in a process of impression management: focusing on appearance rather than essence in understanding, constructing and projecting their identity to others.

Desired outcomes were identified as necessary for resisting a program of impression management: a biblical worldview that includes recognition of vocation and calling, a kingdom imagination, engagement in intergenerational relationships and participation in works of service. These outcomes could be made possible through the implementation of three strategies: families practicing postures of weakness and thankfulness, small groups practicing hospitality and celebration and utilizing of rites of passage with significant adults or mentors. These strategies would give the adolescent the spiritual, social and developmental frameworks necessary for resisting an ethos of impression management for identity cultivation.

Content Reader: Dr. Chapman Clark, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Clark, Chap

Document Type





Church work with teenagers; Christian teenagers; Teenage consumers; Identity (Psychology); Materialism; Spiritual formation


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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