photo by Paul Reams

Darren Pollock
"The church's Mission to youth"

Darren M. Pollock, a PhD candidate in historical theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been named the 2013-2014 winner of the annual Word & World Essay Prize for Doctoral Candidates. Word & World: Theology for Christian Ministry is the quarterly journal published by the faculty of Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Pollock’s winning essay, “The Church’s Mission to Youth,” will be published in the journal’s Summer 2014 issue. In the essay, Pollock argues that youth ministry too often fails to incorporate young people fully into the life and leadership of the congregation, comparing this present situation with the Western church’s frequent failure to introduce native leadership in its earlier missionary efforts. Pollock explained, “In my experiences in youth ministry I was often impressed by the powerful ways in which God spoke and worked through young people, but I also frequently came across the belief that ‘youth are the future of the church’—an adage that, if taken to exclude or minimize the present ministry of these youth in the church, would prove disastrous. When I was first introduced to the profound theological reflections of twentieth-century missiologist Roland Allen, I was struck by the parallel pitfalls that hindered foreign missions a century ago and much of modern youth ministry today.”

Pollock’s essay emerged as the winner from a group of entries submitted by doctoral candidates in religion and theology from major US seminaries and universities. In addition to having his essay published, Pollock will receive a cash prize of $1000.

Darren Pollock graduated in 2001 with highest honors in classical civilization from the University of California, Davis, where he won awards for classics and vocal performance. In 2004 he received an MDiv degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, with commendations for preaching and music. During the six years between his MDiv and PhD programs, Pollock served as the Director of Student Ministries at La Crescenta Presbyterian Church in southern California. A candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Pollock lives with his wife Ashley in Pasadena, not far from his California hometown of La Cañada.

Pollock has been an active choral tenor since college, recently performing with such groups as the Bach Chorale of Grand Rapids and the Pasadena Master Chorale. “My extracurricular interests,” he writes, “range from sacred choral music to crossword puzzles, basketball to video production, classical Greek to twentieth century Middle Eastern politics.” Upon completion of his doctoral work, Pollock hopes to teach at the college or seminary level.  

The annual Word & World essay contest, now in its fourteenth year, was designed by the journal’s editorial board to provide incentive for doctoral candidates to write directly for the Christian church during a time in their careers when their work is generally focused more specifically within the academic world.

Doctoral students interested in entering the 2014-2015 essay contest can find more information here.

Copies of the Summer issue, which will contain Pollock’s essay, can be ordered from Word & World, 2481 Como Ave., St. Paul, MN, 55108 (651-641-3482; ww@luthersem.edu).