Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Guy Chmieleski

Second Advisor

Steve Sherwood


This dissertation claims that Christian adolescents will flourish when using a narrative approach to both scripture and life as part of an intentional meaning-making process. Narrative theology offers the controlling story (worldview) needed by adolescents and aids in meaningfully framing life experiences. Chapter 1 identifies the problem of Christian adolescents abandoning the church and/or their faith as they move into young adulthood. Nuances of this exodus are explored, and a particular brand of adolescent faith is articulated, one which is lacking in both substance and relevance. Meaning-making is then characterized as an intentional, guided process in which Christians construct meaning in their life and faith. Chapter 2 examines a narrative approach to scripture and employs this lens in seeing the story of God’s redemptive activity revealed throughout the Bible. The narrative shape of scripture will frame the meaning-making process for Christian adolescents. Chapter 3 surveys selected narratives throughout church history. The narratives envelop particular people and places in the story of the Church and reflect their participation in God’s on-going redemptive activity as well as their identification with the biblical narrative. Chapter 4 seeks to express current narratives of the American evangelical church as well as those of postmodern culture. An attempt is made to find common ground between culture and church with regard to their respective values and stories. Chapter 5 provides a snapshot of adolescence through a psychological lens and through the lens of adolescent spirituality in America. The framework for adolescent meaning-making is constructed and fuses together the narrative shape of life with the narrative approach to scripture. Chapter 6 introduces meaning-making practices for Christian adolescents to address the neutered brand of adolescent faith introduced in the opening chapter. Concrete ministry application is then presented for church leaders and parents who desire to walk alongside adolescents in their meaning-making journey.

Included in

Christianity Commons