Title

Finding the formula for connecting the church in the lives of teenagers/ young adults.

Date of Award

5-1-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

School

Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Abstract

Across the country, church membership is on the decline. Teenagers and young adults are one of the largest groups with declining church attendance. With a growing number of life options available to choose from on any given Sunday morning, a large segment of this vital population continues to be visibly missing, from church community. How can we reach this vulnerable population? Is there a formula for connecting our churches to the lives of teens and young adults in a way that is relevant to them? Church leadership and congregations will have to deal with a generation of teens and young adults who are the collateral damage of "The War on Drugs," a war that led to unfair laws and mass incarcerations. The societal impact of this war, on the inner city, was experienced on many levels; lost incomes led to the destruction of entire families, neighborhoods and schools. How can we as a church reconnect to our teens and young people? If a formula is to work it must be build on strong relationships or utilize already existing ones. The twenty-four teens and young adults chosen for the pilot program were given a preassessment that revealed their strengths and areas of challenge. The assessment focused on the following assets: personal, social, family, academic and community strengths. This information allowed for the direct development of challenge areas. The premise is that when these areas of need are met, a personal connection will be made, and the church will become relevant in their lives. The participants were given a post assessment to determine if any change had taken place in their thinking. The results revealed that many of the participants improved in areas of challenge, established trusting relationships, and a willingness to walk that pathway back to the church. When the church works to understand the teens and young adults, and meets their deep needs in a meaningful way, a new and stronger connection will be forged. Connection is what makes the church relevant, and may be what draws a person into a fellowship of believers.