Citizenship in heaven for TCKs

Misunderstood is over 300 pages long and yet it is still missing a LOT of stories. I did nearly 300 interviews with TCKs as part of the research that went into it, and a few sentences from probably a third of those interviews were included as quotes in the finished book. That’s a lot of untold stories! There are lots of trails I was interested in following but which either didn’t fit the overall flow/narrative of the book, or weren’t well developed enough to include.

Last year I was able to follow one of those trails with new research. The end result was short (10,000 word) thesis titled “A place to call home: citizenship in heaven for Third Culture Kids” – the final project in a Master of Divinity degree I spent three years working on.

Several Christian TCKs I interviewed for Misunderstood mentioned a specific piece of Christian theology as being very helpful to them through transitions and processing their international childhoods: citizenship in heaven. For my thesis I interviewed 9 TCKs from diverse backgrounds but who were all aged 19-26 and all identified as Christians. I also ran a survey of nearly 100 Christian young adult TCKs. Then there was a LOT of reading Рlooking at theology, exegesis, homiletics, missiology, sociology, and pastoral care. The end result was an examination of what this theology means, what it means to TCKs, and how it can be a comfort and encouragement for Christian TCKs.

This week mission blog A Life Overseas published a two-part series I wrote for them in which I briefly outline the two major findings of my thesis, complete with quotes from my interviews and statistics from my research.

In the first post I talk about the concept of a heavenly kingdom, described in the New Testament as a culturally inclusive community. 80% of TCKs found the idea of citizenship in heaven comforting, and in this post I explain why that is.

“Home is something that can be lost. A community disperses, and so does the sense of home. A family moves on, and suddenly a place that was home is no longer accessible… Citizenship in heaven answers a deep felt need in TCKs for something that does not exist for them on earth: a singular, comprehensive source of home.”

In the second post I talk about TCKs’ concepts of (earthly) citizenship, and how this affects the way they understand what it means to be citizens of heaven. Their perspective has something important to speak to Christians generally, and also makes the theology of citizenship of heaven a powerful tool to help TCKs think through other aspects of Christian theology.

“During interviews every TCK used ideas from their description of earthly citizenship to illustrate what they believed heavenly citizenship was… Citizenship is an image that resonates for immigrants and expatriates and especially TCKs. New Testament writers used this imagery precisely because it connects with so many earthly experiences. We can do the same, and in the process speak both comfort and challenge to TCKs and others who live cross-cultural lives.”

Click on the links below to read the full posts on A Life Overseas:

Citizens of Heaven: Third Culture Kids and the Longing for Home

Citizens of Heaven: Third Culture Kids and Kingdom Living

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