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What's in a name?

The church has always struggled to fulfill Jesus' call to go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28). In fact, on our own, it is an impossible task. Jesus, however, not only calls us, he also gives us every gift we need to follow his call! The Passage Institute for Youth and Theology was formed both in recognition of the difficulty the contemporary church has making our youth into disciples and in gratitude for God's good gifts.

The name "Passage" indicates our goal: to partner with churches to chart a course through the largely pathless wilderness that lies between adolescence and adult discipleship. The primary way we do this is through our year-long "Passage Fellowship."

The "Institute for Youth and Theology" indicates the way we pursue our goal: using the resources of LeTourneau University, a Christian institution of higher learning, to discover and share the gifts God has given His people for making disciples: 1) resources ranging from scripture to strategies, from God's promises to Christian practices and prayer; and 2) relationships with others who are committed to responding faithfully to God's call.

Please let us support you and serve you as you seek to respond faithfully to God's call to make young persons into disciples of Christ!

Our Mission

To equip youth and those who minister to youth for participation in God’s mission to reconcile and restore all creation through Christian study and practice.

Our Partnerships

Our work is funded by a generous grant (2016-2025) from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. and supported by LeTourneau University and the School of Theology and Vocation. We thank them for their generosity! To support our work, click here.



Why am I involved with Passage? 

My first exposure to the Lilly Endowment was while I lived near Los Angeles in graduate school. One of my professors was working on a grant for a program designed to help first-year college students explore vocation. He invited the whole class to help him think about how to do this. At the same time, I was studying urban ministry and seeing how churches were participating in the mission of God by living with, serving, and reaching out to the poorest folks in L.A. These overlapping experiences forced me to consider Christian vocation as something rooted in God’s mission to the world and relevant for all people, not just those who get to attend a Christian college. Little did I know that I would one day help coordinate a Lilly-funded project inviting high school students for the exploration of vocation!  

What does it mean to be “director of theology”? 

“Theology” is best described as “faith thinking” (P.T. Forsyth) or “faith seeking understanding” (Anselm of Canterbury). Based on God’s own gracious word to us (especially Jesus Christ, the word made flesh, God with us) and working under the authority of the Holy Bible (God’s written word), theology seeks to speak beautifully and truly of God as part of our walking in the way of the Lord Jesus. Theology did not begin as an academic discipline, but as a spiritual discipline by which the early Christians tried to conform their whole lives (praise, prayer, counsel, evangelism, service, etc.) to Jesus Christ. Continuing this work and inviting more Christians into it is my dream job! I thank God for the opportunity to work with you.




I have been involved in youth ministry since college, where I served as a volunteer at a small church near my alma mater. When I went to graduate school, I did all of my field eds and my internship in youth ministry at a local church, and then I was a youth pastor for ten and a half years. I know the significance of pouring into teenagers and it has been a part of my life in some way for twenty years. Now that my daughters are teenagers, I am experiencing youth ministry’s significance in new ways that only affirm how important it is to the Church.

I know firsthand how hard youth pastors and their teams work to balance the demands of youth ministry, and how quickly you can go from preaching and teaching to counseling a student in crisis to planning a mission trip to simply playing dodgeball. It is a demanding job that is constantly being shaped by youth culture and the pressures of secularization. Youth workers and associate pastors are my tribe. To be involved in an institute that seeks to serve youth leaders in a local church is a genuine privilege. 

I also believe passionately in the significance of the Scriptures and theology in the context of youth ministry. The Bible and theology are intrinsically exciting and guide us as we serve Jesus in this world. The Passage Institute’s commitment to fostering theology in youth ministry is important, and I’m enthusiastic about our ministry to help teenagers discover how they can participate in the mission of God.


Stephanie Berglund, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR