Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Mark Plaza


Youth, Leadership, Spiritual Maturation, Outreach, Intergenerational


Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


The thesis project, Development of Future Leaders in the Christian Church, was developed to address the decline in youth attendance, retention, and participation in The Mountain Christian Church in Nicholasville, Kentucky. There has been a consistent decline in the number of youths who attend and participate in the church after high school graduation. After a review of literature and case study, which included a survey, questionnaire, and roundtable discussions, this researcher determined that the cause of the problem was that the church lacked programs for youth that lead them to Christian maturity and an opportunity for leadership skills training. The study was divided into five themes; youth needs for religious practice and relationships, development of youth leadership skills endorsed by the church, the influence of leaders and parents on youth retention in church, leadership behavior shaping in youth, and experiences that lead youth to Christian maturity. The questions in the survey, questionnaire, and roundtable discussions were divided into thematic categories, and the responses were analyzed using a qualitative research method. The study yielded information regarding why youth choose to no longer attend church after graduating from high school. Youth and adults agreed that programs that lead to spiritual maturation were foundational to address the problem. An intergenerational approach to guide youth to spiritual maturation and become active participants and leaders in the church is the cornerstone and impetus for change at The Mountain Christian Church.