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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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5 Spiritual Growth as Transformation

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. 5 .

Spiritual Growth as Transformation

So what actually can be said about the experience of adolescents participating in the process of ICB? Is there any type of spiritual movement to be found within the vast amounts of data? With a timeline of participation which stretched out for some groups close to two years, interpreting changes in either the complexity or volume of the spiritual markers which were requested on the groups’ first surveys in truth became close to impossible. When the final surveys were tallied, it is safe to say that the majority of the groups’ participants displayed minimal if any increase along those specific markers. While the majority of the participants reported that they enjoyed the process, the surveys themselves reflected little effect.

Yet woven throughout the large volume of gathered materials were different themes which eventually brought into clearer focus an answer to whether ICB can serve as a catalyst for the spiritual growth of adolescents. When the complete picture emerged, it was clear to see that participants did in fact reveal signs of spiritual growth even though those signs were not readily apparent in the more structured methodological construct of the surveys. The following, then, will elaborate on the presence and the power of these documented “revelatory moments” which appeared in the experience of the majority of the groups to demonstrate how engagement in ICB moved the ←121 | 122→participants further toward spiritual maturity by leading them into transformational insights that...

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