Workshops and Presentations

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Jacob Sorenson, PhD

Jacob Sorenson, PhD

Researcher, Consultant

Jake first heard the call to ministry as a high school camper at Sugar Creek Bible Camp in Wisconsin. Since then, he has followed his passion for youth and family ministry, young adult ministry, and especially outdoor ministry. He served on summer camp staff for five summers at Sugar Creek and Sky Ranch in Colorado, where he met his wife Anna. They attended Princeton Theological Seminary together, where they both received the Master of Divinity degree in 2005. She continued pursuing her call to ordained ministry, while Jake served as a full-time camp minister and youth minister at Crossroads Outdoor Ministries in New Jersey (director), Good Shephered Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania (Youth Minister), and one more time at Sugar Creek in Wisconsin (Program Director). He returned to academia at Luther Seminary in 2012, determined to expand the research and deep theological thinking in camping ministry. He received his PhD in Practical Theology in 2016. During and following his studies, he has participated in numerous research projects, including the Confirmation Project, the Effective Camp Research Project, the Lutheran Campus Ministry Research Project, and the Camp2Congregation Project. He continues his work on scholarly research, education, and consulting. He has published numerous articles on camping ministry and ministry with young adults, and he is a contributing author to Cultivating Teen Faith: Insights from the Confirmation Project. He has trained summer camp staff, presented to full-time camp ministers, and consulted with camp boards at more than thirty camps in a dozen states and five denominations. He resides in western Wisconsin with his wife Anna, who serves as pastor of an ELCA congregation, and their two boys, Elijah (14) and Nathanael (12). In addition to spending time with his wonderful family, Jake enjoys running, gardening, and most outdoor recreational activities.

Presentations and Workshops

Jake has engaged in Christian education at every level from elementary to adult. He leads interactive workshops, keynote presentations, online webinars, and educational classes on a variety of topics related to his areas of research.

  • Confirmation Ministry
  • Summer Camp Outcomes
  • Campus and Young Adult Ministry
  • Christian Education Beyond the Classroom
  • Effective Faith Formation in the First 3rd of Life

Short form bio for publication or presentation venues:

Jake Sorenson is the founder and director of Sacred Playgrounds, a ministry offering research and training to camps and congregations. He has a PhD in practical theology from Luther Seminary, an Mdiv from Princeton Theological Seminary, and more than fifteen years of experience in camping ministry and congregational youth ministry. He has authored numerous articles on camping ministry, has taught in colleges and seminaries, has presented at camps and conferences across the country, and is a contributing author to Cultivating Teen Faith. He is co-founder of the Effective Camp Project and director of research for the Camp2Congregation Project. He lives in rural Wisconsin with his wife Anna (a Lutheran pastor) and their two boys, Elijah and Nathanael.

Current and Recent Research Projects

Camp and Church Leadership Projecta study of the impacts of working on Christian summer camp staff on faith formation and leadership in the church (2020-present)

Camp2Congregation Project: a study of the impacts of Christian traveling day camp ministries (2019-present)

Effective Camp Project: a study on the impacts of the one-week Christian summer camp experience (2015-present)

Lutheran Campus Ministry Research Project: a study of the characteristics and practices of faithful, effective, and sustainable young adult and campus ministries (2016-2018)

The Confirmation Project: a study on confirmation and equivalent practices in 5 denominations (2014-2018)

Other Articles and Writings

Using Data to Empower” (InSite Magazine, Feb/March 2020)

“Assessing the Power of Camp” (InSite Magazine, Feb/March 2019)

“Ministry at the Crossroads: Lutheran Campus Ministry’s Power and Peril,” with Rollie Martinson (Word and World, Fall 2018)

“Finding Space and Time Through Confirmation Retreats” (APCE Advocate, 2018)

“Rethinking the Classroom: The Logic of Camp in Educational Ministries” (Word and World, Winter 2018)

“Christian Summer Camp has Lasting Impacts” (Episcopal Teacher, 2017)

“Turning to Scholarship in Christian Camping” (Connect Journal, 2014)

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