Dale Osborne Stairs

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD-Thesis - Research and graduation internal

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This research project answers the question ‘What does a historical analysis and evaluation of the youth ministries within the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada (1945-2010) reveal about the presence or absence of the key markers of a discipling youth ministry as identified through the lens of the theological turn?’ I critically examine Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada (CBAC) youth ministries from 1945-2010. Primary sources include archival material from yearbooks, annual reports, publications of the CBAC, and surveys and interviews with key CBAC youth leaders from this period. This material was examined through the critical lens of the theological turn in youth ministry as identified and described by Andrew Root and Kenda Creasy Dean. They identified the theological turn as a grassroots movement beginning around the turn of the 21st century and characterized by theological reflection that led to correctional adjustments within North American youth ministry. I examine Root and Dean’s work, extracting and developing three markers of the theological turn in youth ministry: ecclesial integration, place-sharing, and communities of spiritual practice. I use these markers as a critical lens throughout the remainder of the project. I then present the historical background of youth ministry professionalization and the youth mission tour movement as I integrated these topics throughout the project. As well, I give significant attention to a critical examination of youth ministry resources that the CBAC endorsed, as well as to my survey and interview responses. Youth ministry structures and even youth workers themselves often did not encourage young people's ecclesial integration. Youth ministry within the CBAC consistently placed a high value on relationships, but not usually to the point of place-sharing as identified by Root and Dean. Youth leaders regularly used spiritual practices, but young people were often encouraged to practice these individually or within the youth ministry community, rarely with the church congregation. Through this research project, I demonstrate that the presence of the key markers of the theological turn increased within the CBAC, especially in the late 1900s and early 21st century. After summarizing my conclusions in the final chapter, I highlight the academic contributions of my research, interact with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and suggest a pathway toward a new understanding of youth discipleship within the CBAC.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Klaver, M, Supervisor
  • Stoffels, Hijme, Co-supervisor
  • Blythe, S.M., Co-supervisor
Award date15 Jun 2022
Place of Publications.l.
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2022


  • discipleship, youth ministry, mentoring, Atlantic Canada, Baptist, church integration, mission tours, spiritual practices, theological turn


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