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Growing Young

Written by Ed Stetzer on . Posted in Ed Stetzer

Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church

We keep hearing that young people are leaving the church and the faith in droves. Is it true, and how do you hope your research helps churches today?

Much of the doom and gloom about young people leaving the church is true. Church attendance is declining overall. The share of U.S. adults who identify as Christian has recently dropped from 78 to 71 percent. No major denomination is growing. Further, 18 to 29-year-olds make up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population but only 10 percent of church attenders. Taken together, this can seem like a pretty bleak forecast.

But in the midst of this storm, Jake Mulder, Brad Griffin, and I wanted to study the bright spots—250 exemplary churches doing remarkable work with 15 to 29-year-olds. What we found was both surprising and hopeful. Based on our team’s 10,000 pages of data and 10,000 hours of research, we’ve identified six core commitments of churches that don’t age or shrink, but grow, and grow young.

Tell us more about the churches in the study. Where are they, and what are they like?

To our delight, the 250 congregations nominated by denominational leaders, seminaries, and other national leaders showed great diversity in every category we analyzed. In size, they ranged from 100 to over 10,000. In age, there were some less than five years old and others more than 100 years old. Ethnically, nearly half were not predominantly white. Theologically, these churches showed a great variety of denomination, or sometimes lack thereof. Our data confirms that God is working—and can work—through churches of all types.

I love it when research surprises us. What were some of the surprises in your Growing Young project?

Well, some of the biggest surprises were what ...

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