Growing Young

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

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All churches grow old. Strategic churches grow young.

"Growing Young carries an urgent message. Young people need the body of Christ--and vice versa. This book is theologically informed, research savvy, and pragmatically outstanding. Read it now, before you get any older."--John Ortberg, senior pastor of Menlo Church, author of All the Places to Go

"What's irresistible about Growing Young is that it's not primarily about age--it's about hope. Through story after compelling story, the authors demonstrate how prioritizing the young is a church-changing strategy."--Kenda Creasy Dean, Princeton Seminary, author of Almost Christian

"If you're a leader who cares about helping all generations in your church grow and thrive, this book should be on the top of your list."--Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker, lead pastor of National Community Church

"My strongest recommendation for those committed to reaching the next generation of believers is to purchase, read, engage, and apply this book."--Soong-Chan Rah, North Park Theological Seminary, author of Prophetic Lament

"Parents, families, and churches often struggle with how to get and keep children and young people interested and invested in Christian faith and church life. . . . Growing Young provides practical answers to this question based on serious empirical research. I know of no book quite like it."--Christian Smith, University of Notre Dame, National Study of Youth and Religion, author of Soul Searching and Lost in Transition

"You can't afford not to read this book."--Margaret Feinberg, author of Fight Back with Joy and Live Loved


Unleashing the passion of young people in your church is possible!

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.

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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 a regular speaker at national leadership and youth ministry conferences across the country.

Jake Mulder is the director of strategic initiatives at the Fuller Youth Institute and is pursuing a PhD at Fuller Theological Seminary. 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, leadership training events, and youth ministry conferences.


Endorsements

"Parents, families, and churches often struggle with how to get and keep children and young people interested and invested in Christian faith and church life, especially as culture and technology change at an increasingly faster pace. Growing Young provides practical answers to this question based on serious empirical research. I know of no book quite like it and recommend it highly."

Christian Smith, University of Notre Dame, National Study of Youth and Religion, author of Soul Searching and Lost in Transition

"This Growing Young research and its implications are changing a generation. You can't afford not to read this book."

Margaret Feinberg, author of Fight Back With Joy and Live Loved

"At various points throughout the development of this book, I was afforded the privilege of engaging both the project and the researchers. I can attest to the careful attention and rigorous research that the team brought to this topic. During a time period in our American church narrative when it is imperative that more attention be paid to how best to reach young people, Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin have developed an important and significant resource. My strongest recommendation for those committed to reaching the next generation of believers is to purchase, read, engage, and apply this book."

Soong-Chan Rah, North Park Theological Seminary, author of Prophetic Lament

"Every decade or so a book comes along that reminds us why children's, youth, and young adult ministry really matters. Growing Young goes far beyond the average book. It not only champions the best practices of growing churches everywhere, it also digs deep into the core issues that are crucial for making a forever impact in the heart and soul of young people. This book is a must-read for any leader or team who is investing in the future faith of the next generation."

Reggie Joiner, CEO of Orange/rethink, author of Think Orange

"Growing Young carries an urgent message. Young people need the body of Christ--and vice versa. This book is theologically informed, research savvy, and pragmatically outstanding. Read it now, before you get any older."

John Ortberg, senior pastor of Menlo Church, author of All The Places To Go

"Like never before, young people are looking for answers to life's tough questions. They are seeking meaning, and they want to give their lives to a cause that they believe can make a real difference in the world. In Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church, Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin discuss how we, as church leaders, can show the next generation that the local church IS that cause. Their research shows why growing young IS worth it, and the book provides tangible steps that any church can take to do it!"

Perry Noble, pastor of NewSpring Church, author of The Most Excellent Way to Lead

"What's irresistible about Growing Young is that it's not primarily about age--it's about hope. Through story after compelling story, the authors demonstrate how prioritizing the young is a church-changing strategy, not a youth ministry-changing strategy, and how pursuing Jesus by 'growing young' fundamentally changes the ways congregations interact with their communities and their leaders, as well as with youth and adults. With refreshing candor, this book blows the sanctuary doors open thanks to its insistence on following Christ in a way that prioritizes listening, empathy, and care for all young people and families, not just the Christian ones. If you're looking for a book on youth ministry--keep looking. This book is for the church. At last."

Kenda Creasy Dean, Princeton Seminary, author of Almost Christian

"If you're a leader who cares about helping all generations in your church grow and thrive, this book should be on the top of your list. If you want to be in the know and prepared to inspire and lead the next generation, don't just read this book. Actually integrate its learnings into your ongoing leadership."

Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker, lead pastor of National Community Church

"We have all heard the statistics: Americans, especially young ones, are falling away from both the church and personal faith. Amid the handwringing that has understandably ensued, Kara Powell and researchers with the Fuller Youth Institute have found a surprising kernel of good news: hundreds of churches across the country are engaging and retaining young people in real, embodied ways, and they're doing so without using smoke machines or skinny jeans. Chock full of statistics and fleshed out with stories and anecdotes, Growing Young is a crucial and hope-filled resource for anyone whose heart beats for the local church."

Katelyn Beaty, managing editor, Christianity Today; author of A Woman's Place

"Through research, interviews, observation, and analysis, the authors affirm what pastoral leaders intuitively know--grow young or close up! By identifying six fundamental commitments as well as strategic questions and ideas for action, all anchored in real stories, this book provides a path for adaptive changes in our ministries. The energy and passion of young people can infuse our congregations, creating vibrant disciples of Jesus Christ. Of course!"

Bob McCarty, executive director, National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry

"It's possible that you might be thinking, 'Oh no. Another book about reaching young people.' But let me assure you that this isn't just another book. In Growing Young, Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin have produced probably one of the most thoroughly researched books I have ever come across--but not nebulous research from ivory towers. This research is from on the ground among real-life ministry contexts and communities. It's incredibly insightful, theologically robust, and practically engaging. There's a fine line between catering to young people and understanding the context of our fast-changing culture so that we can engage young people and invite them into discipleship and mission. Growing Young is a gift to the wider church."

Eugene Cho, pastor of Quest Church, author of Overrated

"If you care about the next generation, this book is for you! Kara Powell and the Fuller Youth Institute understand leadership, culture, and the future of the church. This content is timely, strategic, and helpful."

Brad Lomenick, author of H3 Leadership and The Catalyst Leader, former president of Catalyst

"This much-needed resource is a wake-up call, urgent challenge, and empowerment tool reminding us how important youth engagement and development is to a thriving church. Allow this book to push you to new levels of youth and family ministry. Let every page cause you to rethink the present and future of your local church, denomination, or outreach ministry."

Efrem Smith, president and CEO of World Impact, author of Raising Up Young Heroes and The Post-Black and Post-White Church

"Leaders everywhere worry about reaching the youth of today. Growing Young is the guide to ease those concerns. Thank you, Kara Powell, for writing this book."

Claire Diaz-Ortiz, author, speaker, and entrepreneur at www.ClaireDiazOrtiz.com

"I remember growing up in my small denominational church and hearing the pastor 'encourage' me and my young adult friends by saying we were the church of tomorrow. Yeah, I never found that to be inspiring, and neither did my buddies. Sadly, many of them hit the door when they realized their tomorrow was more than a tomorrow away. Fortunately, my friend Kara Powell offers some real inspiration and practical guidance in how the church can combat the sin of ageism by showing how church leaders can turn the younger generations' tomorrow into today."

Bryan Loritts, lead pastor of Abundant Life Church, author of Saving the Saved

"Every congregation wants to love and be loved by its young people. This book grounds that hope in tangible practices that can actually help make it so. It will give you insights and tools for what matters most, not least just letting your life express the life-giving love of Jesus Christ that holds us all together."

Mark Labberton, president, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Many leaders today can point out what the church is doing wrong with the next generation. Few leaders have taken the time or done the research to discover what churches are doing right. That's why I'm so excited about this book. Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin have put together a masterful, accessible work that beautifully documents how churches of all sizes, backgrounds, and denominations are effectively connecting with the next generation. Even better than that, they specifically show what you need to do to become one of those churches. They present their findings in ways that make it extremely easy for any church leader to take action. This is a book filled with practical hope that every church leader will want to read."

Carey Nieuwhof, author of Lasting Impact, founding pastor of Connexus Church

"I can't believe it's finally here! After being a small part of this amazing project, I'm more convinced than ever how important Growing Young is for the church today! I'm so thankful that Kara, Jake, and Brad tackled this conversation head-on and have provided amazing insights that can help each of us engage young people."

Tyler Reagin, executive director, Catalyst

"In Growing Young, the Sticky Faith team has done it again. This volume takes the conversation up a notch--identifying the factors most commonly found in churches that launch graduates into a lifelong faith. Chapter 6 alone is worth the price of admission, with its simple, balanced, groundbreaking case for the disproportionate prioritization of children and youth. This book breathes with the authenticity and urgency that might only come from authors who, at a passionately practical level, are actively engaged in the business of Christian parenting themselves."

Mark DeVries, founder of Ministry Architects, cofounder of Ministry Incubators, and author of Sustainable Youth Ministry

"Every young person should have access to a church community that will support their spiritual development. Growing Young provides research that charts the effectiveness of the church's role in the engagement of youth and their families. Church leaders will learn to create and implement strategic steps to strengthen their youth ministry touch. The secret to Growing Young is now out!"

Virginia Ward, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"The Fuller Youth Institute, the team that pulls together the latest research on the church and young people, has outdone itself in Growing Young. From the Deep Ministry series to Sticky Faith, for over a decade FYI has provided practical resources driven by solid research. Growing Young is not only the latest of these helpful tools, it is the culmination of the most comprehensive project to date that seeks to get at what kind of church not only welcomes the young but also includes and empowers them as full participants in the kingdom of God. Perhaps the greatest gift of Growing Young is the way that this vigorous research project is delivered--a church can immediately take steps to strengthen not only their ministry to children, adolescents, and emerging adults but the entire community as well. Growing Young will become the classic text for churches that are committed to living into their call to be the body of Christ for every generation."

Chap Clark, Fuller Theological Seminary, author of Hurt and Adoptive Youth Ministry

"If you care about young people, this book is for you! If your church has ever asked, how can we reach more young people?, this book is for them too. It's packed with practical, proven ideas and supported by top-notch research made user-friendly. I'm certain that Growing Young is going to help leaders better reach a generation. This book is for me!"

Doug Fields, veteran youth worker, author, and cofounder of downloadyouthministry.com

"The first rule of successful change is to understand the bright spots where the change is already happening. Growing Young reveals the hidden secrets of bright-spot churches that keep their kids engaged. Hint: It's often easier than you think. With this book you can go and do likewise."

Chip Heath, coauthor of Switch and Made to Stick


The Authors

  1. Kara Powell

    Kara Powell

    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...

    Continue reading about Kara Powell

  2. Jake Mulder

    Jake Mulder

    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...

    Continue reading about Jake Mulder

  3. Brad Griffin

    Brad Griffin

    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...

    Continue reading about Brad Griffin


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