A descriptive analysis of youth ministry programs in selected academic institutions
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Youth ministry as an academic discipline is relatively new. Many academic institutions already have youth ministry programs, some more advanced than others, and others are considering establishing youth ministry programs to meet the growing need for training theologically grounded practitioners of youth ministry. With this in mind, this dissertation has sought to describe a set of specified youth ministry programs at particular academic institutions across the United States of America. In order to accomplish this, a few things had to be done. First, a biblical and theological rationale for youth ministry and the youth minister were given. Second, a history of Christian higher education, youth ministry, and program evaluation were outlined. Third, program evaluation theories and program evaluation models were identified and explained. Finally, Robert Stake's program evaluation model was selected and used for the basis of the research for this study. Each of the academic institutions used in this study met specified requirements which demonstrated that they took the training of future youth ministers seriously. A youth ministry professor from each identified academic institution was interviewed along with a specified set of graduates from that academic institution's youth ministry program. The interview utilized a questionnaire that was developed with the aid of an expert panel of youth ministry educators aimed at helping the researcher describe the intended and actual antecedents, transactions, and outcomes of the specified youth ministry programs. The research found that each of the youth ministry programs analyzed had significant time and resources invested in the training of youth ministers. Each academic institution also had a well-developed process of developing students to become theologically grounded practitioners of youth ministry. The research indicated that two main ingredients were necessary to accomplish this goal. First, students had to become well-rounded in the discipline of academia. In other words, students needed to have a theological and philosophical undergirding before they could implement actual methodology. Second, students had to have practical experience that enabled them to test their philosophy and methodology while at the same time being supervised by an expert in the field.