Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Nijay Gupta, PhD
Ekaterina Lomperis, PhD
The repercussions of four distinct world shifts—the Reformation, Renaissance, Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution—has produced a narcissistic culture that impedes Gen Z’s ability to cultivate a transcendent personal narrative that is open to authentic spiritual formation. This “immanent buffered self,” so prominent in western culture, is taking a toll on the spiritual lives of 21st-century individuals of every age. The devastation in Gen Z, the newest generation, has severe consequences for the health of Gen Z and also for the church. One in three young adults do not believe in a Divine Being, and those young adults who are in the church ascribe to a Moral Therapeutic Deism as opposed to a Theistic relationship with a present yet transcendent God.
This work investigates the power of human imagination in music, visual arts, creation, and story to evaluate the efficacy of each for creating a new social imaginary for Gen Z; a social imaginary that includes a transcendent understanding of God and the universe. I will analyze each medium to determine its ability to create change in both worldview and behavior.
The research indicates that the impact of story is superior to other imaginative arts in its potential to change the social imaginary of Gen Z. Backed by neuroscience, the use of imagination through story-form can counter the three internal narratives of Gen Z: the world is a frightening place; meaning is over-rated; and “God? What God?” Story also places the reader in the body of the protagonist, and the reader travels with the protagonist toward a God of light and love. This study concludes that the use of story—in all its forms—is the way forward in returning Gen Z to a transcendent and immanent God.
Stratton, Susan, "Re-enchanting Adolescence: Using Story to Give a New Generation Fresh Hope" (2021). Seminary Doctoral Programs. 403.