What is Teen Challenge’s Theory of Change?


Our Theory of Change? I’m asked about this often from both our supporters and from family members interested in placing their loved ones in our care.

My first response to this question is that we always depend on the power of Christ to change an addict’s life. His redemptive love is not only responsible for the change—but for making it last. After all, 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us,

“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

For 60 years, we as Teen Challenge leaders, have followed our belief in this scripture. We work with some of the world’s most challenged people—broken in physical, financial and spiritual ways—to help them find true transformation through Christ.

Recently, a group of our leaders came together to put more clarity on our theory so that our leaders can best answer this question when asked. We came away with four components of how life-change happens through our Christ-centered programs:

  1. We seek out the hardest-to-serve addicts and meet them at their point of need.
  2. Those who enter our program slowly gain hope, discover purpose and find strength through faith, counseling, and support.
  3. Students develop healthy lifestyles and relationships, preparing them for reintegration into society.
  4. Graduates of our programs contribute to society, remain free from addiction, and grow in their relationship with God.

Our values, staff, and resources align to fully address these four areas so that we can meet the individual needs of each person who comes to us for help in their time of need.


A Testament to our Theory


Robert is a shining example of how our theory works. As I walked into one of our men’s centers I saw him sitting in the lobby. His sunken eyes had dark rings around them. His arms were wrapped with thick bandages from an attempted suicide. He truly looked like he had one foot in the grave.

Our staff showed Robert love from the moment he stepped through the door. I greeted him that morning too, listened to his story, and assured him there was hope. Robert entered our men’s home then and there, starting his walk through our discipleship program.

I personally witnessed Robert’s life change. He was assigned a counselor to address his needs. He started attending group study classes and singing in the choir. Within weeks, the way he walked, talked, dressed and participated in chapel showed outward manifestations of his progress toward restoration.

Over the next months, Robert found purpose through music and began using his talents to glorify God. He formed a band with others in the program, and let me tell you, our chapel music became not only exceptional—it was anointed. Robert no longer looked like death but was alive in worship. Everyone loved seeing him use his gifts for God.


Putting proof in place


We defined our Theory of Change so that leaders in every center will commit to our life-changing efforts. We are also working toward gathering empirical data to validate our theory. We will be asking for your prayers and support along the way.

Together we will solidify the facts we all need to share our theory with government officials, donors, and loving parents who are desperate for a proven solution that can rescue their loved ones from lives lost to addiction.

Thank you for all that you do. God bless you for working with us to put hope within reach of every addict.


Jerry Nance PhD
Global Teen Challenge


  1. Donna Fernandez on March 27, 2018 at 11:53 am

    Thank you and your team for breaking down the process of change in a bite size, easy to communicate way. This is what we do. Blessings.

  2. Ruth Davidson on March 27, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    So grateful to be a part of this organization, where we allow God to do the transformation. Your exceptional leadership is so valuable. Thanks Dr. Nance for all you and your team do for us! The process of change is valuable to our goal in reaching the hurting and lost!

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