Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Second Advisor

O. Jane Thayer

Third Advisor

Tevni Grajales


Purpose of the Study. There is little empirical research about discipleship, and particularly discipleship and adolescents. An understanding of Christian discipleship might, however, be an antidote for a growing trend toward consumer mentality in the church, the effect of post-Christian culture on the home, and the departure of the younger generations from active church life, which are all seen as problems that face Western Christianity. The purpose of this study was to examine the validity of a discipleship model—Growing Disciples in Community.

Method. A conceptual model of discipleship and discipling based on theology and social science theory is developed and tested for its validity. Using Amos 7, the theoretical model was tested using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modeling (SEM) with a large dataset of some 11,000 cases of adolescents attending private schoolsoperated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America. The primary objective was to determine whether thetheoretical covariance matrix is consistent with the empirical covariance matrix. Results: 1. The theoretical covariance matrix and the empirical covariance matrix were found to be consistent, which indicates that there is empirical support for the Growing Disciples in Community model. 2. There were found to be significant relationships (correlations) among the variables of the model. 3. The validity of the model was also found to be stable across demographic characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, grade levels, and even at-risk behaviors.

Conclusion. The Growing Disciples in Community model includes concepts of connecting, understanding, and ministering, which are considered processes of personal discipleship. The model indicates that the discipling attitudes and behaviors of family, friends, Christian teachers, and the local congregation (equipping) help explain adolescents’ responses to the indicators ofpersonal discipleship. Intergenerational connectedness with other Christians has a strong impact on adolescents’ connecting with God and others, understanding and appreciating God’s relationship with humanity, and ministering to and serving others around them. Intentional efforts within the local church to develop and strengthen healthy and appropriate intergenerational relationships will support and benefit the discipleship of all members, not only adolescents.

Subject Area

Discipling (Christianity), Growing Disciples in Community


Included in

Christianity Commons