Academic Programs 

Is There Such a Thing?: The Spirituality of Teenagers  (AM-695)
Summer 2005

Perhaps no other group within contemporary Christianity has claimed more time, energy, and discussion on the part of church leaders than that of teenagers.  Despite the sincere intention of adults, adolescents often seem resistant to common evangelism.  However, within the teenage world, there resides a dynamic quest for faith that is waiting to be "decoded" and addressed by faithful congregations and individuals.  Using the words and experiences of contemporary youth, this course will examine the spiritual development of adolescents and their perspectives towards community, mortality, rites of passage, and ecumenical discovery.  Effective ways of including teens in the experience of corporate worship will also be examined and discussed. 


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Tuesdays and Thursday from 6 - 9 p.m. on the following dates:  May 31, June 2, 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 23, 28, and 30

Robert Clement
Adjunct Professor of Spirituality and Christian Education

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9500


Course Syllabus

Goals of the Course:

1.  To introduce students to some of the relevant issues in ministry to teenagers in the 21st century.

2.  To encourage the students to study and seek innovative responses to adolescent spiritual needs through effective teen ministry programming.

3.  To enable students to seek critical ways of addressing the realities of post-modern adolescence through an institutional structure.


Learning Outcomes:

1.  Students will become familiar with a variety of resources and perspectives in the adolescent ministry field.

2.  Students will recognize the importance of adaptability and innovation in youth ministry.

3.  Students will be able to design a workable, theologically grounded program aimed at addressing and building upon the spiritual quest of teenagers.  

Course Assessment:

1.  A one-page reaction/reflection paper based on each of the individual reading handouts.

2.  A paper, not to exceed fifteen pages, that offers an adaptable design, grounded in scripture and theology, for a weekend retreat for teenagers.

3.  A class presentation based on the weekend retreat design.

4.  Full participation in classroom discussion.

Required Reading:

Stages of Faith by James W. Fowler

Postmodern Youth Ministry by Tony Jones

[Both of the above works will be referred to during the course.  Portions of the former will be of particular use during the first two class sessions; the latter in the design of the course project.]

Handouts, to be supplied by the instructor, on various contemporary topics relevant to adolescent spirituality.

A bibliography with further reading will also be supplied.


Lectures and Discussion:

May 31st

The Tocsin: Course Introduction and Youth Typology

Assignment: It is recommended that Stages of Faith, at least through section three, be read by this week.


June 2nd

The Lobster Quadrille: The Quest Culture and Teenage Concepts of God

Assignment: Biblical Foundations for Postmodern Ministry [handout]


June 7th

The Marvel Method: Postmodern Realities

Project Information and Discussion

Assignment:  Postmodern Communities and Hormonal Theology [handouts]


June 9th

Cafeterians and Buddhapalians: The Uses [and Abuses] of Ecumenical Engagement

Assignment: Multi-Cultural Youth Ministry [handout]


June 14th

What Would Buffy Do? The Reality and Uses of Pop Culture

Assignment: Something to Believe In [handout]


June 16th

Is the Mule Train Air-Conditioned? The Paradox of the TechnoTeens

Assignment: Technological Devices or Engagement [handout]


June 21st

The Death of Jordan Taz: Teenage Perspectives on Mortality

Assignment: The Uses of Disruption [handout]


June 23rd

Can I Throw the Smoke, Too? Creating Roles in Common Worship

Assignment: Vocation [handout]


June 28th

A Lifelong Pattern: Engaging Parents as Evangelists [and other radical notions]

Assignment: Implications of Youth Ministry [handout]


June 30th

Project Presentations and Course Review



Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500