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When God Feels Absent: A Phenomenological Exploration of the Experience of Searching for God in Adolescence
Ryan J. Newman (author)Derrick W. Klaassen (thesis supervisor)Mihaela Launeanu (second reader)Peter M. Gubi (external examiner)Trinity Western University SGS (Degree granting institution)
This study explored the experience of searching for God for adolescents in Christian communities. Hermeneutic phenomenology was the primary method used, though it also drew from Personal Existential Analysis (Längle, 2003) and personal phenomenology (Launeanu et al., 2019). Five individuals were interviewed using semi-structured interviews, yielding results that took the form of six key features. Overall, searching for God appeared as a relational, paradoxical process that involves: (a) suffering, (b) questioning and doubting, (c) longing for authenticity, (d) saying “yes” to the process, (e) unburdening, and (f) striving to help others. The findings revealed that searching for God is akin to the adolescent’s existential task of becoming oneself as they move away from old understandings of God in search of a more congruent worldview. The results are an invitation for counsellors and church leaders to support the unfolding of this process in the adolescents they work with.