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The goal of this study was to explore the cultural changes that have contributed to the delay adolescents are facing in making the transition to adulthood and the role churches can play in easing that transition. It is argued that the Church is uniquely positioned to answer the three specific questions of identity, autonomy, and belonging that are required for the adolescent to individuate. This thesis was evaluated at Grace Church in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Through an examination of the development of social science’s understanding of adolescence, a context is presented that seeks to explain the cultural shifts that have contributed to the elongation of adolescence. The unique characteristics of this life stage (18- to 25-year-olds), combined with the emerging adult’s psychosocial development and the culture’s environmental dynamics have left this group void of the necessary social capital to make the transition into adulthood in a healthy and efficient way.

However, the Church is strategically positioned to intervene in the lives of these emerging adults. With the community of the Church, the transition to adulthood can be more effectively supported through a convergence of believers with a congruent message. In order for this to happen, the Church must adopt an “And” mentality that balances both the centrifugal and centripetal call of the Church. This balance will allow the Church, with a proper philosophy of discipleship, to disciple emerging adults through the process of individuation, whereby they see the Scriptures most fully answer life’s most pressing questions.

Grace Church has historically been a classroom church, but several programs were offered this past summer to build community. All of those offerings were well- received and would be defined as successful. This shift has Grace poised to become more effective in welcoming emerging adults into the life of the church.

Theological Mentor: Kurt Fredrickson, DMin

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Fredrickson, Kurt

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Grace Church (Witchita Falls, Tex.); Church work with teenagers; Church work with young adults; Adolescent psychology; Teenagers


Missions and World Christianity


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