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An Intimate Revelation

Intercultural Bible Reading with Adolescents

Taggert E. Wolverton

An Intimate Revelation chronicles an unprecedented multi-year research project that investigated what happens when adolescents from around the world read and discuss Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son together. The study gathered together adolescent participants, pastoral leaders, and theologians from several countries to read in conversational communities, and these groups then exchanged their interpretations with each other across cultural and religious distinctions. The result is a helpful step forward in understanding how adolescents make meaning when they read the Bible and how the intercultural reading process can spur participants toward spiritual growth.

The book begins by presenting thorough explanations of the foundational concepts of the project before then focusing on each of the groups’ specific experiences through a close examination of their transcripts and written materials. With that foundation laid, a critical analysis of the material investigates signs of spiritual growth as well as the adolescent participants’ ability to function in the process of intercultural communication. The participants’ hermeneutical interpretive grids are presented along with evidence of their ability to create theological applications, and finally the process of intercultural Bible reading is itself compared to the characteristics of effective youth ministry as a hopeful ally in the development of the next generation’s spirituality.

As a report on the only study of its kind to empirically observe adolescent Bible readers participating in an intercultural reading process, these pages offer insight and motivation to pastoral leaders, theologians, and anyone else questioning how to connect this globally aware generation to a vibrant faith.

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4 The Experience of the Groups


. 4 .

The Experience of the Groups

In order to understand the dynamics of the project and its discoveries, there needs to be a close understanding of the groups and their individual dynamics. This chapter, then, will present the experiences of the adolescents and map the research findings to the sub questions discussed in the earlier chapter. To begin, what were the group’s cultural dynamics including their church culture if they described it in their materials? Second, did any of the characteristics of adolescence show themselves in the group’s process of ICB, including how they felt about participating in the process? Next, what dynamics of culture and intercultural communication can be observed? Then finally, was there any identifiable spiritual growth which presented itself over the course of the groups’ exchange? Quotes from participants will be used in the course of the discussion, but in order to preserve anonymity group members will be identified only through abbreviations (for example “GIY”) or anonymous terms like “Group Leader.” When a conversation or exchange is quoted, each speaker will have his or her own reference.

Brookwood Group

The Brookwood Group was one of the first to offer to participate in the project. The group was comprised of four high school girls in a church in South ←55 | 56→Carolina who participated together in their church’s youth ministry and was organized specifically together to take part in the study. They were facilitated by a youth ministry adult leader...

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