Churches are losing both members and vitality as increasing numbers of young people disengage. Based on groundbreaking research with over 250 of the nation's leading congregations, Growing Young provides a strategy any church can use to involve and retain teenagers and young adults. It profiles innovative churches that are engaging 15- to 29-year-olds and as a result are growing--spiritually, emotionally, missionally, and numerically. Packed with both research and practical ideas, Growing Young shows pastors and ministry leaders how to position their churches to engage younger generations in a way that breathes vitality, life, and energy into the whole church.
Visit www.churchesgrowingyoung.org for more information.
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About the Author
Jake Mulder is the director of strategic initiatives at the Fuller Youth Institute. He has worked in a variety of ministry and professional roles, including as a youth pastor in the Reformed Church of America, ministry director with Youth for Christ, and missionary with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Europe and Asia.
Brad Griffin is director of the Fuller Youth Institute. A speaker, blogger, and youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of several Sticky Faith resources as well as Can I Ask That? 8 Hard Questions about God and Faith. He speaks nationally at churches, denominational training events, and youth ministry conferences.
Kara Powell is the executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women to Watch," Kara is the author or coauthor of several books, including Sticky Faith and Growing Young, and a regular speaker at national leadership and youth ministry conferences across the country. Kara and her husband, Dave, are regularly inspired by all the learning and laughter that comes from growing with their three teenage and young adult children.
Brad Griffin is director of the Fuller Youth Institute. A speaker, blogger, and youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of several Sticky Faith resources, as well as Can I Ask That? 8 Hard Questions about God and Faith. He speaks nationally at churches, denominational training events, and youth ministry conferences.
Read an Excerpt
Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church
By Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, Brad Griffin
Baker Publishing GroupCopyright © 2016 Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin
All rights reserved.
What Congregations Are Doing Right
A lot of my friends don't really want to go to their church. But we want to be here, and the older people in our church can see that ... so they want us to be here. Our whole church treats us like we're the church of today, not just the church of the future.
— Ashlee, age 17
Growing old is our default. It happens naturally. And inevitably.
We see the results of growing old when we look in the mirror.
We see the effects of growing old when we look around our congregations.
With age comes great wisdom and beauty. Decades of burrowing in the love and grace of Jesus give the mature members of our faith communities a network of deep roots. Year after year, season after season, their ongoing commitment to love God and others yields a rich harvest.
Old isn't bad. We love old. We just don't think it's the whole story.
If your church is like many, you have bare spots. Holes created by the teenagers and young adults missing from your congregation. You see them on Friday night at the local movie theater and Saturday morning at the neighborhood coffeehouse, but they are absent from your Sunday morning worship services. These bare spots make your church feel incomplete.
Maybe your congregation's bare spots represent more than just missing young people. Perhaps across generations your church isn't growing as you wish. You may be a senior leader trying to hide your disappointment as you stand to preach and think to yourself, "Where is everyone?" Or you're a church member noticing it's now easier to find a preferred parking space before your worship services. Regardless of your role, your church's energy and attendance aren't what they used to be or what you would hope.
Those of you who are part of a growing church likely wish it was growing faster. And yet with that growth, you still want your congregation to feel close and intimate. You are thrilled with the new faces, but you don't want to lose the relational glue that drew you all together in the first place.
Or perhaps you are blessed to be in a congregation bursting with young people. You love how the Spirit is drawing them. But you want to make sure that they don't merely consume what you offer. You want them to be unleashed to join — and help lead — God's redemptive work in the world.
The truth is, every church needs young people. Their passion enriches the soil around them. The curiosity they bring to Scripture and the authenticity they bring to relationships keep your church's teaching fresh and fellowship fruitful.
Young people also need a thriving church. A thriving church both grounds them in community and sends them out to serve.
Your church needs young people, and they need your church. One without the other is incomplete.
The Alarming Reality of Congregations in America
If you're wondering why your congregation is aging, shrinking, or plateauing, you're not alone. Almost weekly, someone at Fuller Theological Seminary quotes this powerful axiom from beloved senior trustee Max De Pree: "The first job of a leader is to define reality." The unfortunate reality is that most churches are not growing, and they aren't getting any younger.
Church Attendance Is Declining
According to an extensive survey by the Pew Research Center, the share of adults in the US who identify as Christians fell from 78 percent to 71 percent between 2007 and 2014. The corresponding increase in those who identify as "religiously unaffiliated" (meaning atheist, agnostic, or "nothing in particular") jumped by almost seven points, from just over 16 percent to 23 percent.
This well-publicized "Rise of the Nones" varies by denomination. Mainline Protestantism, including the United Methodist Church, the American Baptist Churches USA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Episcopal Church, has experienced the greatest dip in numbers. From 2007 to 2014, mainline Protestant adults slid from 41 million to 36 million, a decline of approximately 5 million.
Roman Catholic adults fell from 54 million to 51 million, a drop of nearly 3 million.
Adults in evangelical denominations (such as the Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God, Churches of Christ, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and the Presbyterian Church in America), as well as adults in nondenominational churches with evangelical leanings, grew from 60 million to 62 million. While that might seem like something to celebrate, we should hold our kudos. Although the total number of evangelicals has increased, the percentage of Americans who identify as evangelicals has actually decreased almost 1 percent from just over 26 percent to just over 25 percent.
Even though these shifts represent major downturns in three of our nation's largest Christian traditions, not all denominations are experiencing a slump. Historically black Protestant denominations, such as the National Baptist Convention, the Church of God in Christ, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Progressive Baptist Congregation, remain relatively stable at almost 16 million adults.
To summarize, no major Christian tradition is growing in the US today. A few denominations are managing to hold steady, but that's as good as it gets.
Congregations Are Aging
Those who study demographics believe the decline in overall church attendance is linked with young people's religious practices, or lack thereof. According to 2001 US Census Bureau data, adults ages 18 to 29 comprised 22 percent of the adult population. Yet that same age group represents less than 10 percent of church attendees nationwide. Evangelical Protestant congregations have the highest concentration of young adults at 14 percent, followed by Catholic parishes at 10 percent, and mainline Protestant congregations at 6 percent.
The last handful of years has brought major changes to the faith of young Latinos, one of the fastest-growing ethnicities in the US. From 2010 to 2013, the number of 18- to 29-year-old Latinos who identified as Roman Catholics dropped from 60 percent to 45 percent, while those who identified as "religiously unaffiliated" skyrocketed from 14 percent to 31 percent.
Another fast-growing group in the US, Asian Americans, is experiencing its own faith struggles. While the "Rise of the Nones" cuts across ethnicities, Asian Americans are 7 percent more likely to be "religiously unaffiliated" than the general population.
Across cultures, a major turning point for young people's faith seems to be high school graduation. Multiple studies highlight that 40 to 50 percent of youth group seniors — like the young people in your church — drift from God and the faith community after they graduate from high school.
"Right now, in this season, we have a youth group that is very centered on going outside of our doors. These students are taking our congregation back to the type of service in our community that helped our church get started. They are breathing fresh air into our church and lighting our passion again. They are modeling for older generations what it means to be a light and glorify God." — Colette, age 27
Let's make that statistic a bit more personal. Visualize a photograph of the young people in your congregation. Now imagine holding a red pen and drawing an X through almost 50 percent of their faces. That many will fall away from the faith as young adults.
Some — perhaps more than half — of those who drift from the church end up rejoining the faith community, generally when they get married and have children. But that leaves close to 50 percent still adrift. Even those who return have made significant life decisions about worldview, relationships, and vocation — all during an era when their faith was shoved aside. The consequences of those lasting decisions are often tough to erase.
As followers of Jesus, parents, and leaders who have been in student and pastoral ministry much of our adult lives, we aren't satisfied with the shrinking and aging of congregations. We bet you aren't either.
From Bare Spots to "Bright Spots"
Thankfully, the news for the church is not all gloom and doom. Despite the cloudy sky, light is breaking through here and there. Our team calls these "bright spots."
All around the country, these hundreds of "bright spot" congregations are effectively loving and serving young people. Some of them quietly and without flash. Others with great magnetism and fanfare. We call these churches that grow young because
1. they are engaging young people ages 15 to 29; and
2. they are growing — spiritually, emotionally, missionally, and sometimes also numerically.
Thanks to these remarkable congregations, tens of thousands of young people can't stop talking about how "known" they feel in their church and how, no matter what happens, their church feels like "home."
Like the 1,000-member Presbyterian church on the East Coast that developed a long-term high school ministry team that pours into volunteer adult leaders, who in turn build a web of support around students.
Or the 100-member midwestern rural Reformed church that has become so hospitable to teenagers and young adults that being at church is now the highlight of their week.
Or the 1,500-member urban multiethnic congregation in the South that was so passionate about investing in young people's growth that it launched not one but two leadership training programs for young adults in its city.
Or the 5,000-member nondenominational church that responds to young people's core questions and struggles with an authentic journey of faith rooted in the grand narrative of the gospel rather than pat answers.
Or the 200-member urban Baptist Latino congregation that chose to integrate English into its worship services because it places such a high priority on young people. This church is literally learning a new language in order to grow young.
Four years ago, we launched an investigation into what these sorts of innovative churches are doing right. We conducted this research because we wanted to give you access to what's actually working. This book describes what we found. It spells out the core commitments of churches that are not aging or shrinking but growing young.
The data detailing the decline and "graying" of congregations is convincing, but it's not the full story.
And it doesn't have to be your story.
It Might Feel like the Sky Is Falling, but There Is Hope
One of the teenagers in our study, Isabella, was changed because 50 years ago, her church decided to live a new story. In the 1960s, this southern church was on the brink of shutting its doors. But instead of going dormant, the congregation resolved to grow young. The church recruited Roger, a new senior pastor who valued young people and their families. Roger emphasized safe and appealing facilities for children and also hired staff specifically devoted to children, teenagers, and their parents. Under Roger's leadership, the church involved children, senior adults, and everyone in between in local and global intergenerational mission trips. The congregation worked together to help young people feel included and represented across all departments of the church. It was hard work, but eventually that effort led to growth, as well as a long-term commitment to prioritize young people.
Fast-forward to 2014. Isabella, a high school sophomore, found she had no place to go. Kicked out of her house by her drug-addicted mom, Isabella ended up wandering the streets of her town, looking for someplace safe to spend the night.
Desperate, Isabella remembered Dale and Kathy, a couple who had already welcomed a homeless classmate of Isabella, named Emily, into their home. Isabella didn't know that Dale and Kathy followed Christ. Or that the couple was part of this church with a 50-year legacy of living out Scripture's mandate to care for all young people, including orphans.
All Isabella knew was that Dale and Kathy had already said yes to Emily. If she was lucky, they would accept Isabella also.
Dale and Kathy were overwhelmed with Emily. Self-employed and strapped financially, they felt stretched thin in every way But they knew Isabella needed a family and had a strong hunch they could be family for her.
It wasn't all sweetness and light. Far from it. Isabella could be moody, angry, and downright mean. Dale and Kathy knew this was normal teenage rebellion on steroids thanks to Isabella's turbulent childhood. They were committed to loving her unconditionally, but the slammed doors and sulking didn't make it easy.
Isabella certainly wasn't excited about attending the church's worship services with her new family. Hank, the youth pastor, recalled that on Isabella's first Sunday morning in youth group, she was a "pretty dark thundercloud." Seeing Isabella standing in the back, one of the youth leaders, Tori, approached and started a conversation. Or rather, tried to start a conversation. Isabella responded to her questions with the shortest answers possible. (If you've ever tried to talk to a surly teenager, you know what we mean.)
At the end of that morning, Tori told Isabella, "I hope you come back next week."
Arms crossed, Isabella mumbled, "I probably will. Because my new parents will make me."
Isabella's grumpiness would have been too much for many leaders, but not Tori. Every week that Isabella was forced to come to church with Dale and Kathy, Tori tried to start a conversation. Eventually, Isabella's responses went from a few words to a few sentences. And then a few stories.
Isabella loved to play guitar, so Tori invited her to join the youth ministry's worship team. Since Dale, Isabella's adoptive dad, was also a musician, he and Isabella would practice together in the evenings at home. Despite their financial challenges, Dale would take time off work to watch Isabella rehearse and play at church.
A few months later during a youth group retreat, Isabella pulled Tori aside and confessed, "I feel dirty. And like something is missing in my life." Isabella shared more with Tori about her sexual promiscuity, as well as how she had been cutting herself to try to relieve some of her pain.
Wide-eyed, Tori responded, "Well, would you like to trust Christ and experience his love?"
Isabella broke down in tears. "That's all I want." After months of being loved by a new family and church that didn't abandon her, Isabella decided she was ready to follow Jesus.
According to Hank, "Isabella went from being a dark, scowling thundercloud to telling everyone she couldn't stop smiling."
Isabella remembers that her friends at school noticed (and were a bit "weirded out") by the "new me." She stopped cutting and developed healthier relationships with guys. When our team visited this church and met Isabella, she told us with tears in her eyes, "One of the families here took me in and adopted me. You have to understand how loving this church is. This church has changed my life."
Seventeen-year-old Isabella was changed by Roger, the senior pastor she never met but who God used to change the trajectory of the church 50 years ago, which eventually inspired ...
Dale and Kathy, two "regular" church members who realized they couldn't turn away a young person who needed love and a safe place, a decision that connected Isabella to ...
Hank and Tori, two church leaders who didn't give up on Isabella and helped her experience the embrace of a loving God who doesn't give up on anyone.
If You Care about Young People, This Book Is for You
Isabella was changed because of a team of adults — adults who played different roles in her life and her church. Just as young people need a team of adults, in no "bright spot" church did we find one person who was the sole spark that helped the congregation grow young.
Excerpted from Growing Young by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, Brad Griffin. Copyright © 2016 Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin. Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Growing Young What Congregations Are Doing Right, 13,
2. Unlock Keychain Leadership Sharing Power with the Right People at the Right Time, 50,
3. Empathize with Today's Young People Why 25 Is the New 15, and 15 Is the New 25, 88,
4. Take Jesus' Message Seriously What's Young about the Good News, 126,
5. Fuel a Warm Community Warm Is the New Cool, 163,
6. Prioritize Young People (and Families) Everywhere From Rhetoric to Reality, 196,
7. Be the Best Neighbors Loving and Shaping Your World Well, 234,
8. Growing Young in Your Context How to Create a Plan for Change, 271,
Appendix: Research Method and Procedures, 304,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Because it is research-based, I quickly skimmed through the "Data", but overall found the book to be very interesting, well written (well researched) and a real "page turner". It is packed with great information throughout. I am a parent of two teenagers who very much wants to assure their firm foundation as Jesus Followers. This book does not disappoint. Each page contains insight and wisdom that will be beneficial to local churches, youth leaders and concerned parents. Like all resources from the Fuller Youth Institute, you will find this book to be enriching, challenging and encouraging.
This is the second book I've read from the team at Fuller Youth Institute and it is abundantly clear why these books are so popular. Growing Young is research based on the topic of what churches ARE DOING to connect with younger people (which in turn strengthens the entire church community). While based in research, the findings are outlined clearly with accessible action points. With the many nuggets of wisdom, there is so much in here that I've got an agenda set for every youth leadership meeting I have for the rest of the year!
Awesome book!!!! I have been praying for revival in the church for years. I agree with Growing Young that there needs to be a paradigm shift in how the church view its youth. Nothing can bring revival to our churches better than the passion and energy of young people. If churches are missing teenagers and young adult, then the church is incomplete. According to this book, “Your church needs young people, and they need your church” (p.14). When Christ said “go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19) he didn’t mean only adults. We are to make disciples in our homes, in our churches, in our towns, in our countries, and in our world. Growing Young hits the nail on the head with the six core strategies to help young people discover and love the church. This book gives specific steps to take as your church seeks to shift its focus to welcoming teenagers and emerging adults. If you believe that young people are a critical part of Christ’s church, you should read this book. With the help of Growing Young, backed by the research from the Fuller Youth Institute, you can change the legacy of your church and bring it back to life.
It is hard for me to imagine a book that is research-based being described as a "page turner." That is exactly what Growing Young has been for me. It seemed as though each page was full of information that I needed. I continued to see young people that I work with as I read. Their thoughts and ideals started to make more sense to me. I kept finding myself saying, "that could work" as I considered implementing the practical ministry steps that are offered. I was a big fan of Sticky Faith. I found it enormously helpful and challenging. I knew Growing Young was something that I was a "must-read." I didn't know that it would be so formative in helping me re-understand the faith development of young people. Beyond the understanding there are applicable strategies to put into action. And they're do-able! These are great ideas that can be put into motion without having to re-write the budget. Above all of this, the reason that I can recommend Growing Young is that I come away from reading it immensely encouraged. To often I have read a book that promises to shape the future of youth ministry feeling overwhelmed, having this impossible set of expectations in front of me. That didn't happen with this book. The church can be a home, a refuge of acceptance and a place where Jesus becomes real.
Growing Young is one of those books that you can't buy just one copy of. If you are a congregation member that cares about your church growing young, you need to buy a copy for your pastor. If you are a pastor that is seeking to have your church reach out to the millennial generation, you need to buy a copy for your staff. This is a book that will make a difference in the churches that choose to implement its tips and suggestions. Based on exhaustive research, the authors compile six strategies for reaching the younger generation. The best part of this book is that each strategy is intentionally written to be extremely practical. The authors realize that every church context is different and that a "one size fits all" approach will not work. Therefore, every chapter is loaded with practical suggestions that you can pick and choose from for your church context. It is clear that the authors have a burden for reaching 18-30 year olds. They are passionate about the church growing young. This passion drips from the pages of research and insights. I hope that every church that wants to share the good news with this age group reads this book. One of the most helpful chapters to me personally was "Take Jesus' Message Seriously." The authors traced three shifts that have occurred within 18-30 year olds that every church should take seriously. 1. Less talk about abstract beliefs and more talk about Jesus. 2. Less tied to formulas and more focused on a redemptive narrative. 3. Less about heaven later and more about life here and now. Churches would be wise not to miss the shifts that are happening in this younger generation. If you care about your church and you care about young people, this is the book for you.
Growing Young is a message for everyone that will change the way we interact with and think about young people in our churches. I loved reading through this book! What I love most is that it blends theology, research, and practical ideas together in perfect harmony. I would definitely recommend this to anyone - pastors, parents, volunteers, teachers- anyone!
Like all resources from FYI this book is excellently written and researched. This book is extremely refreshing because it does not tiptoe around hard topics and cover lies with lame christian phrases. I was thoroughly impressed by their realism and authenticity. If you are interested in ensuring that your church does not die out this is a great place to start. As someone who works full time at a church, my first reaction after reading this book was to buy more in order to have our entire staff read a copy.
I was drawn to Growing Young as a youth pastor looking for new ideas that will help us keep our kids in church and loving church even after they have graduated. As with everything Fuller Youth Institute does, this book did not disappoint. Based on research (which is continually mentioned), Powell, Mulder, and Griffin correct many misunderstandings of what we think young people are looking for, as well as give practical ways to implement what actually attracts young people to church and keeps them coming back. When evaluating how well our churches live up to these key values, it may seem a daunting task to apply them, and yet they managed to give numerous suggestions for places to start, along with stories of churches that successfully practiced these principles. Throughout the book, there is an emphasis on prioritizing youth and young adults, integrating them into the whole life of the congregation, rather than keeping them at arm’s length, in their own segregated corners of the church. I was encouraged to read that “Congregational involvement seems to lessen anxiety by reminding young people of what’s important and inviting them to step away from the chaos of their lives to refocus on loving God and others” (102). As our students and young people are busier than ever, we sometimes fear that church is asking too much of them – but church can be giving much to them as well. I have been challenged to find new ways to get the youth involved in the life of the church and the church involved in the life of the youth, basically ways for us to do church and be the church all together. I recommend this book to anyone who is passionate about uniting us all (all ages and backgrounds) as one body of Christ.
Growing Young is the best book I have read all year! As a mom and lay-church leader at a small urban church, I want the church to be a place that young people feel welcomed, equipped, and sent out in Jesus' name. This book balances research with practical application to whatever church setting you are in. I found Growing Young both hopeful and challenging. Our church seeks to engage college students from a local university, young adults who intentionally relocate to our city, and indigenous young leaders. I was encouraged to read the 6 core strategies of Growing Young and reflect on how my church is already applying many aspects of these strategic principles, but also was challenged and felt equipped to continue to lead our church in growing young together- recognizing that the application of these strategies can be transformative to everyone in the church- young and old! Thank you Fuller Youth Institute! Growing Young is a must read for any church leader or parent today!
Growing Young is a great follow-up to Sticky Faith, which was focused on the individual faith formation in emerging adults. GY takes the foundations of Sticky Faith and adds volumes of new research from churches across the country in all contexts, giving a window into the patterns and habits of congregations who are intentionally and successfully engaging emerging generations. The research is thorough, which gives a great backbone to the content -- it's not just anecdotal or the opinion of a couple authors! As a volunteer in both youth ministry and worship ministry, I can see so many different ways our congregation can make a more clear commitment to sharing the good news of the kingdom of God with young people, and then continue valuing those young people as integral parts of our "body." GY speaks to high-level leaders, elders, volunteers, parents, and everybody in between. It would be a great springboard for a church leadership team to read together and really dig into what it means to "grow young" in their context. Thank you, Fuller Youth Institute, for continuing to build God's kingdom by equipping the church to understand, serve, and value younger generations!
Loved this book. The research was incredible. Any church looking to engage the next generation needs nothing more than the core commitments presented in Growing Young. This resource is hopeful, practical, thoughtful, and beautiful. Definitely recommend!
Great book with some very helpful information. They did their research before putting anything together!
Growing Young offers great resources to help the church rethink their vision and strategy on engaging college age and young adults in the body of Christ. This book is based on thorough research and offers tools for evaluations and practical ideas for creating a plan and putting into action. I am thankful for the resources in this book and the incredible insights for ministry it offers!
Are you someone who believes the local church should be able to engage people of all ages - but recognizes not all churches are? Then THIS is the book for YOU! Based on years of data collection, this quick, 8 chapter read provides practical strategies that EVERY church can implement, no matter what the setting. AND - not only will you learn simple ideas that work to reach & build relationships with younger generations - you'll get insight into commonly held practices that don't. This resource from the team at Fuller Youth Institute is a must-have for any church not wanting to die when the people in their pews do. So pick up a copy TODAY and start growing young!
As a twenty-four year old who has lived in three different states in the past six years and been either a student or staff in church youth groups ranging from 3 to 100s, it it’s clear to me that there are plenty of churches who don’t know what to do with/about young people. That’s a problem. As a youth minister (to identify my perspective), I think everyone that cares for the future of the church needs to have access to this book. Whether you come from an urban/suburban/rural/middle-of-nowhere church, a two-week old church plant to a 300 year old congregation, and regardless of denominational affiliation (personally I’ve been part of churches of Christ and Southern Baptist churches) this book can give you some really good ideas. To be clear, this isn’t a book about someone’s “new” ideas on how church or youth ministries should run. It’s a book based on research/interviews with dozens of churches from all over the country (in a diverse set of demographics). The authors are clear that Growing Young is NOT a how-to book. Instead they unpack Six Core Commitments that they found already in practice in churches that were doing well to grow young (engage/equip young people). Some of these core commitments aren’t anything novel (and the authors don’t pretend to make them that way). However, some of these are very difficult to put into practice and constantly require our attention. In each chapter, Growing Young gives its readers several tangible ideas on how to implement these commitments. This book covers the highlights from several other prominent ministry ideas/books/philosophies. In some ways, the Fuller Youth Institute team made this book to be a one-stop shop kind of project. It blends so much good information into one manageable/accessible package that is almost too good (my head hurt while reading sometimes because of how bright the inside of my skull became when so many lightbulbs lit up). It gives leaders from all backgrounds some very important tools for helping the church (intergenerational ministry, empowering students through their gifts, leadership styles, service/justice issues, importance of adult involvement in the lives of teenagers, ministering to families, etc). Growing Young is balanced. At times it provides facts, information, and other metrics. In the same chapter it provides stories/testimonies that coincide with those pieces of data. Then soon after that you get a gentle, but firm reminder that it is important that our churches get it together and implement their findings if we want to be part of the bigger story of God’s work in His kingdom. The authors are deeply passionate about the subject. They present their material in a humble, inspiring manner. This book is written by those who care deeply for God’s kingdom for those who care deeply about God’s kingdom. I don’t see any serious negative qualities in this book other than it sometimes was painful to read (man can only take so many “rip, stab, stabs” to heart upon realizing his/his church’s mistakes in the past). It’s not going to be the final word on ministry ever written, nor was it intended to be. Growing Young is passionate, informative, and most importantly (to me at least) helpful.
Fuller Youth Institute creates yet another encouraging and challenging read for those who love young people and want them to be reached by the Church! After reading Sticky Faith I was encouraged to take some practical steps in my interactions with young people to create opportunities for them to make their faith a bit stickier, and Growing Young is an extension of that. The premise to have churches Grow Young instead of Grow Old is a struggle that will face our societies in the years to come. For churches to be Growing Young, this book looks in depth at 6 core strategies in order to create opportunities for that to happen. FYI does an amazing job at not only exploring the depth of questions through their extensive research, but also provide the reader with practical application of steps they can take moving forward within their context. Both the depth of research and myriad of ideas for action help the reader feel both challenged about what is happening with young people, and encouraged about steps the reader can take to do something about it. As a Youth Pastor, I know that these words have resonated well with me, and this book is going to be a resource that I glean from for many years to come. Furthermore, this is something that I will definitely share with the many other ministries around me in my small community knowing the incredible impact this movement can have for the future of our town, but even more the future of God's Kingdom and His desire to have a relationship with young people. I highly recommend this book to parents, pastors, congregations, elders, grandparents, everybody who cares about young people and the future of God's Church.
Growing Young is a tremendous resource to churches who are wanting to minister to the next generation. I serve as the Student Pastor at New Life Assembly in Monticello. My primary responsibility to help our church grow young and this book put into words and backed with research a lot of conversations I have had with our young adults. We are a young church and want to continue being a young church. This book is not a silver bullet to help you grow young as a church but lays a foundation for you to begin the conversation and put into place strategies and core values in your church to help you grow young.
As a Lead Pastor in the Church of the Nazarene, it's really important to me to be paying attention to the unique realities of each generation I am called to serve. I care deeply about how each generation learns, thinks, experiences faith, and lives that out in daily life. Growing Young pays close attention to the millennial generation and asks us to listen well to the research given throughout the book. Many research projects can be read with stats thrown out that can discourage or motivate. It can leave the reader with questions like, "So now what?" The stats revealed in Growing Young take it a step further to invite the reader look closely at the ways the research presented can impact each particular church context whether large or not. The leadership team at the Fuller Youth Institute understands how important it is give local churches practical ideas to engage the research for real, tangible change. This book does that, and does that well! I found myself highlighting key ideas provided at the end of each chapter I felt could really help us here in Gig Harbor, WA to begin to put the hands and feet at work to this great resource. Daily I find myself ruminating in some way on the 6 core commitments provided in this read. We need this resource on our shelves to help us better understand a generation that cares deeply about the church. We need this resource as people who care about what our church communities looks like in the next 10-20 years. We need this resource to help us listen well. Our church communities are awaiting our proactivity to this resource! You won't be disappointed.
As a Senior Pastor I have read many Fuller Youth Institute books and curriculum and I must say this has got to be one of the best. It is a research based book that doesn't get bogged down in the research. The research is incredibly practical and mixed with stories of how the numbers are related to everyday situations. It covers a topic that many churches and Christians are anxious about in a grace filled and hopeful way. It's hard not to read this book and get excited about what God is doing in the Church worldwide. We can learn a lot from the churches featured in this book and I am thankful to the authors for presenting it in an accessible and impactful way. Perhaps the best part of all is that each chapter ends with Ideas for Action, Chapter Highlights, and Strategic Questions that can be immediately implemented in your context. As a Pastor I know I will be using these ideas long into the future. I would recommend it for Pastors, teachers, Children & Youth Ministry leaders, parents, church leadership teams, and anyone interested in strengthening the church to reach out to the younger generations. I keep a mental list of books that I think everyone should read and this is definitely in my top five.
So many great stories of hope... As a Youth Pastor, a Dad, a follower of Christ, and one who has invested most of my life into the development of young people I was particularly fascinated by this books approach to understanding young people within the church context. We hear all the time about the decline of churches in America, how young people are leaving the church in droves, but rarely does one take the time to understand this shift in culture from a research based approach with a theological underpinning that is accessible and practical in its response. This book nails it on the head with what’s going on with young people in the church. There is a great balance between research, theory, theology, and practicality along with some incredibly honest questions. I love that with each practical tool they give the authors thoughtfully put into a general context so one doesn't feel as though this is a prescription for how to do ministry but that this is a suggestion or a guideline that might help one in ministry, life, and engaging young people. The book has appeal to me as a youth leader, but more importantly as a a dad and a member of the body of Christ. It dispels the myth that we should attempt to paint pretty and fun pictures of Christianity all the time, but that young people really long for deep meaningful relationships, that are honest and challenging. I like that it helps me to identify ways as a member of the body of Christ to more thoughtfully and intentionally engage our young people with the congregation. My favorite part of the book is not the theory or theology behind their reasoning, but the practicality and the stories that go with the practical application. Its got me thinking how do I implement some of these ideas in my own ministry, family, and church. Thanks!
“Young people need the church and the church need young people. One without the other is incomplete.” I decided to read “Growing Young” because my heart is for students (& young adults) to be connected to the church. My church and I are not satisfied with the statistics of how many students walk away from the church—and their faith after high school. When I began hearing about #growingyoung and how it addressed exactly what I’m experiencing, I was eager to hear more. And I am SO glad I did! I believe a desired outcome from reading this book is that young people would be unleashed to join—and help lead—God’s redemptive work in the world. Growing young is much more than an inspirational book (although I was inspired every time I read!); it is an empowering book that helps us with HOW to bring about change. Each chapter closes with a section called “ideas for action” and includes questions to help us evaluate how well our ministry currently lives out the strategies and commitments discussed in that chapter. Although I would consider myself a “doer,” I greatly appreciate the help, questions, and strategies to move from thought to action. The research in #growingyoung is truly insightful and helps me to know how to better reach, include, and empower young people. While there is not one “silver bullet” to do this, there are six core commitments addressed that will greatly improve our ability to “grow young.” The commitment that I’m going to begin working on first is “Unlock Keychain Leadership.” I was reminded how important it is for me to develop leaders by sharing my “keys” with them. When I am willing to share authority and leadership with young people, they are more willing to trust me with their hearts, their energy, their creativity, and even their friends. Sometimes this feels like more work than it’s worth—but I have been convicted to give them access so that we can reach a whole generation! Whether you’re a church staff member, volunteer, parent, young person or old(er) person, I would highly encourage you to read this book! I believe you will be inspired and empowered to bring about change within your church not only for the benefit of your church, but the world around you as well!
It's the kind of book that keeps ending up on your desk, no matter how many times you try to put it back on the bookshelf! As a youth leader, I have a ton of youth ministry books. Many of them have one or two good ideas, and then end up on my bookshelf, never to be touched again. "Growing Young" is a different kind of book. It's filled with practical ideas, backed up by research, to help teenagers and young adults get connected and stay connected in the body of Christ. It's the kind of book that you highlight, scribble notes in the margins, dog-ear pages, and generally beat up, in a good way, because it's got so many good things in it. It'll be a book that I read through once but will continually go back to again and again, for ideas and reminders of what has worked in other congregations. Since the book is based on actual interviews with actual people in actual churches, from dozens of different denominations and contexts, I know that the research is thorough and the content solid. There are no fluff chapters; the authors get right to it in this book. It's worth every page.
As I read through Growing Young, I kept on saying a resounding, “Yes!” I love how this book is researched based. Being an American living in the UK, I found it to even be relevant here (as well as in the US). Throughout the book there are real life examples of how churches have made changes to reach out to young people and essentially grow young. There are six core commitments that Growing Young suggests that your church needs. I wholeheartedly agree with all of them! I have been working closely with a small group of teenage girls and this is what they want and need… empower them, empathize with them, take Jesus’ message seriously, create community with them, prioritize them, and engage in the world around you with them. And to be honest, these are all things I want for my church as well! I want us to be a warm community engaging with the world, empowering others to lead, empathizing and prioritizing every person in the congregation, and keeping Jesus’ message preeminent. Due to the state of the church I attend, I found this book discouraging at times seeing how many hurdles and steps that my church will need to take in order to truly grow young. You see, my church is dying, person by person and it is sad to see how few families attend. And in this book, it is said that it takes everyone to have the church grow young. I kept on thinking, but how will this change ever happen? Then I read the final chapter of the book. It was super encouraging giving ideas for how to make the first few steps forward. I love how it suggests that we tell stories in order to enable vision to spread. I’m not a huge reader, but found this book easy to read. At the end of almost every chapter there were some helpful sections on ideas for action which encourages you to come up with some ideas that you can act on now. I did think the chapters were long (but this is coming from someone who isn’t a reader). I recommend this book to all church leaders and anyone working with teens and young adults. I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Fuller Youth Institute has done it again! "The truth is, every church needs young people. Their passion enriches the soil around them. The curiosity they bring to Scripture and the authenticity they bring to relationships keep your church's teaching fresh and fellowship fruitful. Young people also need a thriving church. A thriving church both grounds them in community and sends them out to serve. Your church needs young people, and they need your church. One without the other is incomplete." (From page 14 of "Growing Young") Many youth workers have read FYI's Sticky Faith materials or used them in some capacity in their church and youth ministries. Growing Young is the next phase in their work, where the team has worked tireless hours interviewing and researching what characteristics a church should have in order to not just keep young people (ages 15-29) attending church but also having them become a vibrant part of the church DNA. This is where the idea of "Growing Young" comes from. The folks at FYI have read dozens (at one point in the book they state 80) of books and spent time with over 350 churches conducting interviews with adults, young people, and church leaders seeking to determine what has worked. If you want to spend 10,000 hours reading books and doing all sorts of research to figure out how to help your church attract, keep and empower young people then go ahead. OR, you could buy this book and learn from the hard work the folks at FYI have done. I love the stories included that give hope to the reader. Throughout the book there are dozens of practical ways churches can grow young. Each chapter has loads of statistics to back up what they're saying, along with several tips for growing young. The chapters also include highlights that allow you to quickly flip through and understand what the chapter is about (which allows you to decide whether you want to read that chapter or not...which you DO), along with "strategic questions" to help your church makes its way to becoming a young church. Oh, and in case you read this book and you want more: in the back there are footnotes which give a little more detail on certain points as well as bibliographic information regarding resources you can read up on. As a 15+ year youth ministry veteran I cannot recommend this book enough. Growing Young is a challenge to us all to continue ministering to young people. It's a shot of encouragement that any church, big or small, no matter what denomination or what area of the wordlists in, can have youth that love your church
This well-researched and well-written book comes from the Fuller Youth Institute, one of the most trusted groups in youth ministry today, and that reputation is well-deserved. I found this book full of exceptional information, statistics are paired with real-life stories (even from a church or two that I'm familiar with!), and written in a style that is very accessible to anyone. The most valuable part of the book, however, is that each chapter ends with not just one or two but many suggestions that can be put in place in the local church. Many of the suggestions can be enacted right away. Some of the suggestions sparked other things in my spirit that I want to try out in my local church. And I was able to begin sharing in sermons right away some of the information in the book and challenge my congregation to begin to think in terms of "growing young." After finishing the book, I am excited to see what might yet happen here. You will not regret time spent with this book. I am keeping it on my desk rather than filing it away on the shelf because I know I will go back to this many times in the weeks and months to come. I am a senior pastor of a local church and plan to also share this book with my youth director. In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided a copy of the this book in advance in return for an honest review, but I also purchased another copy to give away.