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Rahn appointed to leadership team of Theology of Joy and the Good Life project

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Dr. David Rahn has been appointed to the Joy and Adolescent Faith and Flourishing (JAFF) Advisory Board of the Theology of Joy and the Good Life project based at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture.

The JAFF Advisory Board will assemble some of the nation’s foremost scholars of youth ministry. As a member of the board, Rahn will conduct research and direct the project in collaboration with the project’s principal investigator, Miroslav Volf, Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, and an extraordinary group of scholars and religious leaders from institutions around the globe, including Jürgen Moltmann, Jonathan Sacks, N. T. Wright and Nicholas Wolterstorff.

“I’m eager to learn from gifted world-class colleagues as I participate on this Yale-led advisory board,” Rahn said. “We’ve already connected for some planning and new friendships are being established. Also, my mind is churning about the opportunity to pursue research that contributes to our collective understanding about how adolescent experiences of joy are tethered to a vital relationship with God. As an extra bonus, I will have the privilege of bringing a sharp young scholar or practitioner along with me in this original research journey. At my advanced age, that’s a very attractive feature of my involvement!”

The Theology of Joy and the Good Life project will conduct research and facilitate interdisciplinary conferences and other gatherings to build a transformative movement driven by a Christian articulation of the joy that attends the flourishing human life. As a major area of focus in the project, the Joy and Adolescent Faith and Flourishing subproject will examine adolescence as a uniquely opportune and consequential phase of moral and spiritual development with profound implications for long-term prospects of a life of joyful flourishing.

“There are a number of different ways to slice up the pie when it comes to youth ministry,” Rahn said. “I’ve advocated my entire life for working with young people that do not typically show up on any church radar screen. It was especially gratifying to learn that it was my scholarship and ministry among this population—representing roughly 50 percent of teens in America—that led to my invitation to join in this ambitious project.” 

JAFF will conduct a three-year series of 34 lectures on the foundations of adolescent joy and flourishing, publish scholarly articles, an anthology, a major theological monograph, and curricular materials on the foundations of joy and flourishing life and on the spiritual resources supporting resilience in the face of common sources of adolescent suffering. The project is made possible by a $4.2 million grant from The John Templeton Foundation.

“We are very excited to have Dr. Rahn’s leadership in this project,” Volf said. “We are working to identify the practices and attitudes that hinder and develop sustained joy in adolescence, so that we can offer resources that will enable adolescents to live lives of joyful flourishing. Dr. Rahn’s combination of scholarship and practical experience will contribute greatly to such meaningful work.”

Rahn is a youth ministry researcher, author, futurist and missional leadership strategist. After beginning his ministry with Fort Wayne Area YFC in 1972, he joined the faculty of Huntington University in 1985 and served full-time for 22 years before rejoining the mission of Youth for Christ/USA in 2007. He holds a B.A. from Huntington College, an M.A. from Wheaton College and a Ph.D. from Purdue University. He has published more than 100 articles, essays and books.

In his current capacity, he leverages his influence as founder of the Symmetry Series™—a mixed method tribe-building strategy—to advocate for the surprising contributions to be made by young, urban, indigenous leaders who have overcome considerable adversity through their faith in Christ. His passion is to invigorate Jesus’ Church with kids who have a story to tell.

More information about the Theology of Joy and the Good Life project is available at, which will be periodically updated with news and resources generated by the project.

The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discovery in areas engaging life’s biggest questions, ranging from explorations into the laws of nature and the universe to questions on the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness, and creativity. 

The Yale Center for Faith and Culture was established in 2003 to critically examine and promote practices of faith which advance authentic human flourishing and the global common good. The Center’s core programs are God & Human Flourishing, Life Worth Living, and Adolescent Faith & Flourishing.