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This project was developed to help Community Presbyterian Church of Danville, California, establish a more holistic and formative approach to adolescent discipleship by focusing on the developmental needs of young people and leveraging greater congregational support to address those needs. A practical theology of adolescent discipleships was built around both biblical mandates and insights from the developmental sciences. The integration of these perspectives offered greater clarity on adolescence as a crucial context for ministry. The alignment between the normative developmental tasks of adolescence and the formative directives for discipleship found in Scripture illuminated those aspects of personal and spiritual formation that must become the focus of adolescent discipleship.
Research revealing the levels of social support adolescents need to thrive in these developmental processes indicate that effective ministry with teens requires the engagement of not just those serving in the church’s student ministries department but the engagement of the congregation as a whole. To facilitate that broader engagement, an ecclesiology focused on the biblical metaphors of family and adoption has been proposed as a means to shape a church culture that prioritizes active efforts to welcome adolescents into the life of the church.
This project initiated an array of strategies at Community Presbyterian Church designed to strengthen the church’s approach to adolescent discipleship in ways that take seriously the developmental needs of adolescents and the biblical mandate for the whole church to share in the responsibility and calling to embody God’s adoption of younger brothers and sisters into the family of faith. These strategies, which targeted both the student ministries department and the congregation, have been successfully implemented with preliminary indications of effectiveness. However, the longer-term results have yet to be assessed, while the implementation of this praxis continues to be refined and reinforced.
Doctor of Ministry
Community Presbyterian Church, Church work with teenagers, youth ministries, Discipling (Christianity), Discipleship, Belonging (Social psychology)
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Haslim, William A., "A Practical Theology of Adolescent Discipleship: Integrating Developmental Science and Theology to Guide Congregational Ministry" (2019). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 398.