The purpose of the SPU Youth Discipleship Academy is to encourage youth toward an understanding and experience of a living and active God and, therefore, toward understanding and experiencing themselves as disciples of Jesus Christ by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
As disciples, these students will establish themselves for leadership in the church and world, and garner the resources necessary to deal with contemporary challenges both ethically and spiritually.
Students will begin to form their identity around a God who is present, vital, missional, and powerful, and they will address particular interdependent and mutual faith characteristics: spirituality, narrative, vocation, and community as elements of their relationships with God and each other.
The Learning Experience
SPU is committed to:
- Academic excellence and relevance
- Transformative and Holistic student experience
- Vital Christian identity and purpose
These core themes frame the Youth Discipleship Academy’s desire to balance classroom learning, spiritual experience, and interactive practices in embracing a theological identity grounded in Scripture, community, and vocation.
Classes are four hours in length, delivered in a pair of two-hour sessions. There are four courses, each held on a different day:
- Story explores the basic meta-narrative of Scripture with introductory hermeneutical practices.
- Creed explores the basic theological beliefs of the church with some Christian history that illustrates the emergence of those beliefs.
- Mission explores the many ways that God’s mission is embodied in the global and local church in all its cultural diversity, with some understanding of the demography of global Christianity.
- Connect explores the theology and practice of spiritual disciplines, sacraments, and symbols garnered from the rich well of Christian history.
Theological goal: Youth will understand and experience spirituality as presence, reality as narrative, life as vocation, and community as empowerment.
Spiritual goal: Youth will understand and experience, from a Christian perspective, what it means to connect with ultimate transcendence in the living God via the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Narrative goal: Youth will understand and experience, from a Christian perspective, the reality they inhabit as part of a larger coherent story – at personal, communal, and global levels – that has a plot, participants, purpose, and a Protagonist.
Missional goal: Youth will understand and experience, from a Christian perspective, how they might personally and contextually live out the mission of God, a holistic mission of redemption for all people in all ways.
Relational goal: Youth will understand and experience, from a Christian perspective, community as a theological unity of difference, both with peers and adults, in multiple forums throughout their time during and after Immerse.
Formational goal: Youth will learn, experience, and practice Christian identity.
Seattle is one of the world’s most dynamic cities, a center of commerce, immigration, technology, tourism, education, and the arts. It is headquarters to some of the world’s most successful companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Boeing, Costco, and Nordstrom.
But Seattle’s two greatest features may be its diversity and geography. The greater Seattle population is among the most ethnically diverse in the country. People from many different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds live within its neighborhoods. Geographically, Seattle is located amidst a wide range of natural beauty. The sea, mountains, deep forests, rural farmlands, lakes, orchards, and river canyons are all within close proximity.
Finally, Seattle is also a “post-Christian” city, where few identify as Christians. This setting offers a powerful context within which to define what it means to be a disciple. With no other similar programs in the western U.S., let alone the Pacific Northwest, Immerse is a powerful resource for growing young church leaders.
Immerse is supported by the Lilly Endowment, Inc., of Indianapolis, Indiana, as part of its Theological Program for High School Youth initiative.