Challenging Students at Fort Worth Christian School to Engage the Economically Disadvantaged in Their Community
Christian Denominations and Sects
Critical and Cultural Studies
Ethics in Religion
Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractThis doctor of ministry thesis presents a project in which I led a group of students at Fort Worth Christian School in experiences that challenged them to be more engaged with the economically disadvantaged in their community. The problem I identified at the outset of the project was a lack of such experiences along with troubling attitudes about poverty. Many students initially demonstrated ambivalence or even outright hostility toward the notion of helping people who live in poverty. I found such attitudes to be contrary to the teachings of Jesus and to my central beliefs as a Christian. I believed that this problem was partly due to the fact that I had not adequately facilitated the spiritual formation of students by sharing experiences that challenged these ideas. In order to respond to this problem, I and two other Fort Worth Christian School teachers led a group of high school students in a 48-hour experience with an urban ministry to the homeless in Dallas, Texas. During this time we participated in a poverty simulation, which involved making meals on meager resources, sleeping in shelter-like environments, volunteering at various ministries, and meeting people who live in poverty and homelessness. I evaluated the efficacy of this project by triangulating the findings of field notes, informal interviews, and the assessment of an independent expert. I concluded that the experience was an effective first step in responding to the problem, but that more needed to be done. The experience did seem to meaningfully challenge the students who participated, but it remained unclear how long-term the effects would be. It also did not have a clear impact on the rest of the student body that did not participate in the experience. Nevertheless, it was an effective move toward more faithfully living out the Christian value of caring for the poor.