Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
Jon L. Dybdahl
H. Peter Swanson
Problem. The Immanuel Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church is located in the University-saturated city of Durham, NC. As such, it has the potential for a thriving young adult population of active churchgoers. Instead, the young adult attendance at ITSDA mirrors that of most American Christian churches as it is in decline. The result is an increasingly aging church with few youngsters energetically engrossed in the life of the congregation.
Method. Research was conducted and a wholistic formational discipleship program was tested as a means of addressing the issue of young adult attrition at ITSDA. The program included these steps: 1. An 8-hour young adult spiritual retreat was conducted for ages 18-35 affiliated with ITSDA. 2. A baseline survey was dispensed to establish a benchmark for spiritual fitness and church attendance/involvement. 3. A five-week discipleship class was held to introduce and teach the five wholistic formational discipleship foci. 4. An exit survey was administered to collect data for comparison to the baseline. 5. The data was evaluated, conclusions were made and recommendations were suggested.
Results. Forty-six participants completed the baseline and exit surveys. The data was collected and analyzed for patterns and trends to be used towards a possible solution. There were more female participants than male, 66% to 34% respectively. The typical respondent was a single, childless female between the ages of 22 to 25. Most respondents recorded an improved result at exit as compared to baseline. There was a marked increase in the level of involvement from Time 1 to Time 2. While about 5% of the young adults indicated that they were not involved at baseline, none of them selected that category after the intervention. It appears the wholistic formational discipleship program encouraged a positive statistical increase in young adult church involvement.
Conclusions. Some recommendations emerged as a result of this project; 1) I will develop a three month WFD curriculum to determine whether a more extensive time frame will increase young adult retention levels; 2) In future research I will elect to use a ten-point Likert scale over a four or five point worded Likert scale in the survey instruments; 3) Further attention should given to assessing the degree to which program participants are involved as a result of the merits of the WFD program or because of the presence of a charismatic leader.
Church work with youth--Seventh-day Adventists, Discipling (Christianity), Seventh-day Adventist youth--North Carolina--Durham
Nixon, John S. II, "Retaining Young Adults Through a Wholistic Formational Discipleship Program at the Immanuel Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church" (2013). Project Documents. 91.