In late 2016, a team from Fuller Youth Institute published Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church. That book is accompanied by several free resources that can be accessed here.
Through their research, Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin identified six things that churches who engage in meaningful ministry with young people do well. This series will briefly identify each of the six strategies and share a story of a place in the United Methodist connection doing that strategy well.
In Growing Young, one of the key strategies is to “Fuel a Warm Community.” In this chapter they say that young people are not looking for the coolest program or even worship. They long for church and its community to be deep in genuine relationships and connections . . . “A place to belong.”
This is further emphasized and backed up by the research done by the Search Institute that identifies 40 assets (of which involvement in weekly religious activity is one), and states the more assets young people possess, the higher their self-esteem and the lower involvement in risk taking behavior. “Places of faith have great potential to provide experiences, relationships, opportunities, skills and qualities that help young people thrive and make responsible, healthy choices.”
As I further explored the suggestions in this chapter, I thought of a young person who I recently accompanied to a meeting with their pastor. This young person described church as “home, the place where he felt grounded and cared for.”