Podcast Episode #72: Kara Powell - Characteristics of Churches Reaching Millennials

Posted: Aug 07 2017


Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.




The Issue:

“The first job of leaders is to define reality.”

The best research indicates that almost half of youth group grads are leaving the church after they graduate.

The young adult population is grossly underrepresented in most churches.

The vast majority of churches are aging and shrinking.

Kara and the team at Fuller Youth Institute have been researching churches that are beating the odds and “growing young”, engaging the 18-29 year old populations. 



The Solution: 3 Characteristics Churches that are “Growing Young”


1. EMPATHY - It’s important to understand the main questions young people are asking and journeying with young people as they seek answers for these questions. These churches don’t judge young people, they journey with them.  They got to know them and go out of the way to get in their world.  They avoid offering quick advice, but ask them questions so that they can best identify options and solutions.  It requires a lot of patience.

2. KEYCHAIN LEADERSHIP - A large number of young adults identified engaging leadership as one of the main factors for church involvement.

It is key that leadership is willing to hand over the KEYS (position, access, power) to young people.  Young people want the freedom to cause change in a positive way. 


3. FOCUSING ON THE MESSAGE OF JESUS - These churches are re-Jesus-ing.  Christianity can be complicated and religious, but the person of Jesus is always magnetic.  

God’s grace is the heart of the Gospel instead of behavior.  These churches challenged young people to live radically by following Jesus in the here & now by loving and neighboring well. 


Questions Millennials are Asking:

1. Who am I?

2. What is my purpose?

3. Where do I fit?

The best answer to these questions is the GOSPEL.  It's  important to help them navigate these questions and answers instead of offering quick advice. 


Characteristics Churches DON’T Need to Engage Young People:

1. It doesn't have to be a particular size or in a particular location.

2. There doesn't have to be a huge budget, but the budget needs to be prioritized.

3. There doesn't have to be amazing facilitates or a definite “cool factor”. 







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