Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Audience: The primary audience/user of my project will be Christian teenagers with a desire to share their faith in a missional way in the vernacular of their peers. I also hope the project will be a resource for those who minister to and work with teenagers and desire to connect with them as well as inspire them to go out and be the church to their friends that do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
I hope my users will have more confidence in sharing their faith and will learn skills to talk about the sacred in the midst of the secular, not just with movies, but with all things in life. I hope the readers of the book will be able to notice God at work in all things and then direct their friends who do not see God at work to see Him!
Written Statement: Is the church relevant to life as a teenager? Does the church address the issues of adolescence in ways that they will understand? Does the church even attempt to speak the "vernacular of adolescents?
I believe that the vernacular of adolescence in USAmerica is Popular Culture. To reach them with the Gospel, we need to use the same strategies that a cross culture missionary would, mainly find a way to speak God's grace and eternal truths in their cultural language. Once the church speaks the language of adolescence, they will be better equipped to share their faith with their peers in that vernacular. The historic church has embraced high culture and folk culture, it is time for the church to engage popular culture and speak the vernacular of teenagers.
Multimedia Project: The goal in this multi-media, track two project is to craft a popular book specifically for Christian teenagers to help them find Jesus at work in almost any movie, and then teach them how they can tum a movie going experience in to an opportunity to share the Gospel. Due to the popularity of the film medium, many books have been written dealing with spiritual themes in a specific movie, especially for the movies that were made to glorify God, such as The Passion of the Christ or the Chronicles of Narnia, but I hope to give tools to help people find God alive and at work in any movie, even perhaps in a movie that some might find offensive to God. This project will walk a fine line, as well as follow the command of Jesus to be in the world but not of the world.
Topic: I am studying popular culture, specifically major motion pictures, as the vernacular of adolescents.
Research Question: How can a Christian teenager tum a night "hanging out" with friends at a movie into a mission trip.
Research Problem: in order to help teenagers connect to Jesus.
Practical Problem: so that my teen readers can find an effective, non-threatening way to share their faith in the vernacular of their peers in a way they will fully understand, comprehend and live.
Other Proposed Solutions
1. Relational ministry by someone who understands and loves teenagers (similar to a missionary to a different country or culture who truly loves that people group) will always help them connect to the church.
2. Some churches have attempted to use short clips from major Hollywood movies as teaching tools during the usual weekly worship services or during a traditional Bible Study format.
3. Some churches focus on other areas of popular culture such as youth relevant music, video games or television as opposed to movies. While these are all incredibly important parts of most teenagers' lives; however, due to the massiveness in size of popular culture, I limited this study to major motion pictures.
The Thesis: I believe teenagers can be taught how to effectively turn a simple night out at the movies with friends into an opportunity to share the Gospel in a way their unchurched friends will understand. Almost every movie contains characters, situations and themes that can teach the scriptures or Biblical principles, and when discovered, movies can be powerful evangelistic tools.
I claim that more Christian teenagers will be able to share their faith with their unchurched friends if they are given the tools to "translate" movies using the Holy Scriptures and Biblical principles.
Because teenagers tend to view movies with their peers and are at a developmental stage where they value peer friendship above most other relationships. (warrant: with more independence from their parents, they rely more heavily on their peers for the answers to life's questions).
Because most teenagers interact with movies on a very regular basis, some go to a movie theater, while others host DVD movie nights, it can be a distinctive way to connect with them.
Because most teenagers see movies with the hope of taking away "something", i.e. a clever or repeatable line, a good story, a relatable character, etc.
The Project: I hope to write a book for teenagers that will help them understand how to watch a movie with non-Christian friends and turn the post-movie conversation into an opportunity to share the Gospel. The book will be written in a style that is easily understood and applicable to the average teenager.
Rationale: I chose this media form as a starting point. The book will be driven by images and quick, short, "quotable" phrases and questions. I envision it looking similar to a "teen magazine", and hopefully this little book will become a connecting point that will bridge different mediums.
Youmans, Jacob, "Movies as the Vernacular of Adolescence" (2008). Doctor of Ministry. 184.