Relational youth ministry in the foursquare denomination
Doctor of Missiology
One of the ministry models used by the church for reaching youth in the North American context is known as relational youth ministry (RYM): this is where adult leaders seek to forge bonds with youth in their own cultural context, hoping that through a level of connection, the adult will earn the right to share the gospel with the youth and influence them toward mature Christian living.
Interviews and focus groups were conducted with relational youth ministers, and grounded theory was utilized to reveal constructs regarding both the practice and the formational elements of RYM. The results not only shed light on ministry to youth, but also provide some keys to developing and training relational youth ministers in the Foursquare denomination.
The research showed key RYM contacts and practices happened through campus work, missions teams, service projects, and intentional time spent outside of the church setting doing life tasks together with young people. Distinctive practices connected to church youth services and programs included extended fellowship times, pre- and post service meals together, and games and activities during the meetings. In addition, this study found that youth workers developed their relational philosophy and ministry primarily through the mentoring influence of others and a hands-on approach to emulating relational practices distilled from biblical models.
Even though RYM is a well-established ministry model within the North American evangelical church, the Foursquare denomination has never had a training mechanism for developing relational youth ministers. This study examines the denomination’s youth ministry through Bolman and Deal’s symbolic frame in order to discover strategies to implement RYM training in Foursquare. The results of this research lead to a proposed pilot program for training relational youth ministers in either a local church setting or Foursquare district.
Mentor: Alan Weaver, PhD
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