Rawlings School of Divinity
Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)
Gary J. Bredfeldt
the fruit of the Spirit, patience, kindness, goodness, Christian church youth, youth ministry
Ridgley-Thornton, Mary Ann, "The Relational Fruit of the Spirit in Youth Ministers: Do Youth Ministers Display Patience, Kindness, and Goodness?" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4370.
Youth ministry is a crucial part of the church that can help teenagers strengthen their godly beliefs and spiritual formation. Youth ministers’ actions, characters, and behavior should reflect the fruit of the Spirit. This qualitative case study explored whether and how youth leaders displayed the fruit of the Spirit at seven Bible-based, baptistic Christian churches in southeast Georgia. Although seven was the goal, only five churches agreed to participate. A Christian church was defined as one with no more than 500 members that accept the Bible as the sole source and authority of genuine Christian faith. The fruit of the Spirit was defined as the nine specific behaviors Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23 (Noyes, 2019): love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These can be developed through the work of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life (Noyes, 2019). Little research has been done into the fruit of the Spirit and whether it is displayed by youth ministers or other leaders. In this study, the researcher attempted to contribute to the leadership knowledge base. The study used interviews and observations to investigate whether youth ministers’ behaviors demonstrated the fruit of the Spirit. A within-case analysis was conducted on the first case and then replicated on the subsequent four. A cross-case analysis was used to compare the findings, and conclusions were drawn about the connections between the youth pastors and the relational fruit of the Spirit: patience, kindness, and goodness. The youth pastors in this study demonstrated this relational fruit of the Spirit. Although the youth pastors were not perfect, their demonstration of the fruit made a difference in their ministry.