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The purpose of this doctoral project is to lead the congregation of First Baptist Church to first understand the effects of systemic abandonment of adolescents by Western culture and the Church and then confront these effects by applying what can be learned (about identity, belonging, and attachment) from a biblical and cultural (secular) understanding of adoption, in order to reshape ministry praxis to more faithfully align with the work of God’s Kingdom. The project uses the process of practical theology to guide this work.

This project is divided into three parts. Part One explores systems of adolescent support—and ultimately, abandonment. It also examines the Church’s reaction to the rise and fall of such systems. This context is essential to creating a felt need for action within the local church.

Part Two employs theological reflection and insights from secular disciplines to examine the idea of adoption into the family of God as foundational for identity. It also borrows from lessons gleaned from adoptive parents and their children on attachment and identity.

Part Three draws from the previous parts to propose an implementation plan for a new ministry strategy that addresses the need for belonging through understanding how people are adopted (both spiritually and culturally) into God’s family, the Church, within the context of First Baptist Church. This approach is leading the congregation into creating a more faithful praxis. The project concludes with a summary of what was learned and insights for future ministry.

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Doctor of Ministry

First Advisor

Clark, Chap

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Adoption, adoptive, youth ministry, belonging, practical theology, attachment, belief, behave, belong, systemic abandonment, identity


Biblical Studies | Child Psychology | Christianity | Family, Life Course, and Society | History of Christianity | History of Religions of Western Origin | Practical Theology | Religious Education | Sociology of Religion


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