Project Documents

Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Jane Thayer

Second Advisor

Benjamin Maxson

Third Advisor

Nilson Ferreira

Abstract

Problem

For more than a decade the Paradise Adventist Church had been experiencing a common problem facing most churches in North America: approximately 60% of the youth were leaving the church. Rainer and Rainer (2008) argue that one of the factors in two-thirds of young adults between the ages of 18 and 22 leaving our churches after high school is the lack of a simple and effective discipleship process. Pastoral observation concurs that a primary contributing factor to the loss of Adventist youth is that the youth are not being discipled effectively and thus not rooted in Scripture, connected to the church, and grounded in a genuine relationship with Jesus. The traditional method for discipleship and spiritual growth within the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a cognitive Bible-study approach.

Method

To begin my project, I conducted a biblical study on Jesus’ method of discipleship which revealed the elements Jesus used to mold his disciples. These elements formed the foundation of the Power Up model. I researched factors that affected youth discipleship and models of discipleship that already existed. This research provided elements that were considered for inclusion in the Power Up model. The Power Up model offered a variety of elements for spiritual growth: biblical reflection, media, journaling, scripture memorization, spiritual practices, small groups, and mentoring. Offering many options gave the students more of a chance to find something to help them grow spiritually. The Growing Disciples Inventory (GDI) was used to measure spiritual growth. This inventory was taken before and after the students participated in the Power Up model, and the results were compared to see what areas of spiritual growth improved through the model. In addition, an open-ended survey was created to understand how the participants felt about the Power Up model and to see what parts of the model they thought were most effective. Each participant received the survey through email to complete and return to me. Adults were recruited and trained to serve as mentors to the students who volunteered for the project. They also took the GDI before and after experiencing the Power Up model and answered the open-ended survey.

Results

Both youth and adults showed growth in several areas of spirituality. The Power Up model was organized into seven themes: vision, gospel, surrender, intimacy, witnessing, body of Christ, and service. The themes that showed statistically significant growth for youth were gospel and body of Christ. For adults, the statistically significant themes were witnessing, surrender, and intimacy. In general, both groups were positive towards the process.

Conclusions

Entering into a discipleship process that focuses on routine reflection on Scripture and having spiritual conversations with peers and mentors fosters spiritual growth in both the student and adult mentor.

Subject Area

Discipling (Christianity); Church work with youth--Seventh-day Adventists; Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Church (Paradise, Calif.)

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