Project Documents

Date of Award

1997

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Nancy Vyhmeister

Second Advisor

Eduardo Schmidt

Third Advisor

Ron Whitehead

Abstract

Problem

In many Seventh-day Adventist churches in North America patterns of non involvement among the youth were observed. Young people were attending church on Sabbath, but almost none of them were leaders. The objective of this dissertation was to identify biblical principles for the development of a youth ministry in which leaders build responsible servant leaders and encourage young people to grow, learn, and use their gifts in Christian ministry.

Method

The Scriptures were searched for a biblical background for youth work and principles for successful youth involvement. The word “youth” was analyzed in the Old and New Testaments together with the activities and duties of the youth. The contemporary problems that hinder successful youth ministry were identified, and sound solutions were found in the incamational ministry of Jesus. Three bilingual churches with a high level of youth involvement were studied and evaluated to identify the mechanisms of their success. Lastly, these principles were applied and suggestions given for youth leaders to create an effective ministry based on the "Old Testament Paradigm of Youth Ministry."

Results

In the Old Testament youth were respected, trusted, and highly regarded. Responsibilities such as being king, prophet, minister, and priest were given them, showing trust and willingness to form their characters in service. A different spectrum was found in the New Testament where youth were generally regarded as inexperienced, immature, and unfit for leadership. Young leaders were more the exception than the rule. For example Timothy was advised: “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young” (1 Tim 4:12); and on another occasion the church at Corinth was told to “see to it that Timothy has nothing to fear while he is with you” (1 Cor 16:10), speaking clearly of the lack of support and implying the difficulty that churches had in working with young leaders. An exception to the lack of trust in the youth in the New Testament is the incamational ministry of Jesus Christ who used the same principles outlined in the Old Testament. The three successful North American youth programs investigated had also applied the principles of the “Old Testament Paradigm of Youth Ministry.”

Conclusions

Applied in the local church the “Old Testament Paradigm of Youth Ministry,” including the elements of trust, involvement, equipping, and empowerment, will not only prepare youth for the ministry, but will reproduce leadership in others. The emphasis of the Old Testament Paradigm and the incamational ministry of Jesus Christ is not so much in evangelizing as in reproducing.

Subject Area

Church work with youth--Seventh-day Adventists; Youth--Religious life

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