Ministering to adolescents in an institutional setting
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This project is a descriptive design of ministry to adolescents who are institutionalized for treatment of emotional and behavioral problems that illustrate how a particular kind of ministry facilitates faith development and spiritual formation. The work is comprised of three sections with sub-headings, a bibliography, and an appendix with hands-on material.
The first section discusses the theological, biblical, and ministerial context of the project. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4:7-13, is a challenge in this project. Young people who are institutionalized and struggling with issues of growingup, are open to hear that God intends human life to be meaningful, "to the measure of the stature which belongs to thefulness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:13).
Being human is a gift of God. It is good. It is rich and satisfying, not in spite of the hurt and pain of separation and difficulty, but because in those times, one experiences the awesome, holy presence of God when there is a significant other there to sustain and to guide. It is in those times that faith is born, and the process of healing begins.
The chaplain is a vehicle through whom God works the process of healing, sustaining, guiding, and reconciling. The goal: healthy, whole humanity living in community.
The second section discusses pastoral care in the Christian tradition and how that tradition helps define the role of chaplain in a 20th century institutional setting. The word "spiritual" emphasizes the particular skills and training the chaplain brings to the role, as well as the urgency of a life of prayer and theological reflection. The word "physician" emphasizes the care and nurturing the chaplain directs toward the wounded adolescent in her/his pursuit for healing and wholeness.
The three sub-divisions of the second section discuss the role of spiritual physician in counseling, Christian education arid spiritual life activities, and worship. The first division describes the role of spiritual physician as s/he creates a facilitating environment for growth and development for an adolsecent struggling with an event or an accumulation of events that are threatening or overwhelming. In the second division, the tasks of teaching Christian education and directing activities are defined. The goal of the spiritual physician is to facilitate an adolescent's understanding of herself/himself in relationship with God and others. The purpose and process of creating worship settings in which an adolescent may experience God's presence, hear God's Word, and respond to God and community in a meaningful way is the focus of the third division.
Section three discusses chaplaincy in the modern psychiatric hospital where the clinical model is foremost in treatment; yet, the need for pastoral availability and theological resources are recognized as important dimensions of basic physical and mental health. The work [sic] "clinical" emphasizes the importance of the chaplain being clinically knowledgeable of diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and documentation. "Spiritual guide" emphasizes the chaplain's task of clarifying the understanding of God in life, of recognizing the place of suffering, and of discovering spiritual resources and meanings, particularly as these relate to the treatment goals of the adolescent patient.
The three sub-sections discuss the role of spiritual guide in working with the multidisciplinary treatment team as it designs the treatment for each adolescent, with staff in areas of relationship and spiritual growth, and with the community as it struggles to understand adolescent developmental issues.