Your Church Can Grow Young!
From Rev. Melissa Johnson, Moravian Eastern District President:
Each month I have tried to share information that the Eastern District Executive Board gleaned from our regional meetings last Fall. As I mentioned, a common theme was a desire to minister in a way that is meaningful – and attractive – to young people. As Sister Cynthia Rader Geyer has helped many of us to see, doing this requires more than some greasy pizza and a dedicated space in the church building filled with ancient sofas. But what does it require of us? There is no instant solution; however, there are ways to strengthen our congregations and engage young people much more fully.
The District Board urges each of our congregations to consider participating in this opportunity for honest evaluation, dreaming, and action . . .
Thank you to Cynthia Rader Geyer, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for providing this month’s article:
Much of the doom and gloom about young people leaving the church is true. Church attendance is declining overall. In a 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center, 65% of adults in the United States identified themselves as Christians, down from 75% just five years ago. No major denomination is growing. Further, 18- to 29-year-olds make up nearly 20% of the US population but less than 10% of church members. This can seem like a pretty bleak forecast. But in the midst of this storm the Fuller Youth Institute chooses to study the bright spots – 250 churches growing young, doing remarkable work with 15- to 29-year-olds. What they found was both surprising and hopeful. Based on 10,000 hours of research and 10,000 pages of data, six core commitments of churches that don’t age or shrink, but grow, and grow young were identified.
The congregations studied were diverse in size, from 100 to 10,000 members, and in age, some were less than 5 years old others were more than 100 years old. Ethnicity and Theology showed a great variety as well. The data clearly confirms that God is working – and can work – through congregations of all types. Your church can grow young.
The six core commitments present in each growing congregation were surprising. But even more surprising was what was not present in the six core commitments. It turns out that reaching young people is not primarily done through a specific worship style. Or a great facility. Or a big budget. Or the best on-line presence. Or designing super-entertaining ministry programs. Reaching young people goes much deeper. It’s much more about the heart of what it means to be the church. Hence, the six ‘core’ commitments.
One of the six core commitments of congregations growing young was empathy, meaning feeling with young people. Empathy is sitting on the curb of a young person’s life, celebrating their dreams, and grieving over their despair. It’s recognizing that young people face challenges on their path toward identity, belonging and purpose, and journey with them. Millennials and Gen Z’s, over the past two years have been and continue to be embroiled in pandemic and cultural issues. Their resilience and determination will likely shape the world that emerges once the crisis passes. To grow, the church must journey with them.
At a recent youth and young adult retreat I met Ariana (identity changed to honor the individual), a seventeen-year-old who had given up hope that her family could provide her with the sense of belonging she craved. She spoke about the conflict between her divorced mom and dad, and how it had consumed so much of their emotional energy that they had little left over for Ariana. But through her church, Ariana came face-to-face with empathy in a human form. When Denise (identity changed to honor the individual), who was a single mom, heard that Ariana had a weekend cheerleading competition and no parent would be attending, she came and sat in the stands. Ariana was so touched; she began texting prayer request to Denise. The two started sharing meals together. Ariana began to see Denise as a part of her family and re-introduced Denise to her mom. When Ariana’s mom was unable to help her prepare for the fall science fair, Denise stepped in. She helped Ariana with her science fair project and attended the science fair with Ariana’s mom. Together they are family and each of their lives have been changed.
The top phrase young people use to describe congregations that are growing young is “like family”. They talk about congregations that attract and engage 15- to 29-year-olds as “being real”, as a place where “I can be myself”, and where “I am being valued”. How might we continue to grow our congregations into welcoming places that feel like family, where faith and fellowship feel real, where being oneself is valued? What does that look like? In a culture chock-full of dwindling congregations, in large part due to an increasing number of disengaged young people, how can our church pursue and cultivate a vibrant future?
One way is by digging deeper into the six core commitments of congregations that are Growing Young. The Eastern District Executive Board is sponsoring four regional Growing Young Workshops. These workshops will explore the Growing Young research and practical ideas for engaging and retaining the young people you have, attracting their unchurched peers, and harnessing the next generation’s vitality and passion for Christ. Regional Growing Young Workshops are perfect for congregational members of all ages, lay leaders, and clergy and are offered:
March 26th – Metro/NY Hosted by United Moravian Church from 10AM to 3PM. A zoom link or live stream will be provided for our Toronto congregation.
April 23rd and 30th – Penn Mar and LHV North and South and Del Valley Location TBA from 9:30AM to 2:30PM
May 7th – Del Val TBA from 9:30AM to 2:30PM
Registration fee, including lunch is $20 per person. Scholarships are available. For more information contact Rev. Cynthia Rader Geyer, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, NP ED at [email protected].
Position your congregation to engage younger generations in a way that breathes vitality, life, and energy into the whole church.
Americans are anxious about their finances. There’s good news, though: God wants something better for us than fear and doubt. AND there’s an exciting program that your Moravian Ministries Foundation in America is partnering with this year to help. It’s time to get FreedUp!
What is FreedUp?
FreedUp is a financial stewardship training program that offers current resources to help guide and equip people of faith to manage money in healthier ways, through Biblical wisdom.
The app addresses all components of financial stewardship. Including:
Who is FreedUp for?
Everyone. For people in any financial situation, not only those in crisis.
The app is three journeys in one, designed to meet each participant where they are.
After taking a short assessment, you will get a lane recommendation. Then you’ll choose which lane feels right for you.
Am I on my own with FreedUp?
No! Your Moravian Ministries Foundation in America is offering a virtual FreedUp course Tuesday evenings at 7 pm Eastern from April 19 through May 24. Complete each week’s content at your own pace and then join the group on Tuesday evenings for conversation and learning together.
- Without the accountability that a group provides, a lot of people won’t stick with the course.
- Group discussions are another opportunity to learn. You won’t have to share any personal financial details.
- Meet Moravians from all over! The spring virtual course is open to anyone living in North America.
How much will it cost?
MMFA is able and ready to help you take steps toward a healthier relationship with money. We have 100 codes for 2022, so the first 100 people who respond will be able to take FreedUp at no charge.
We are also offering FreedUp for small groups within communities of faith; our staff can lead each week, or we can train people from your congregation to lead.
Next Steps:Contact Laura Watson (336.725.2589 or [email protected]) for more info-rmation about FreedUp and to register for the spring class.
Also, if you’d like more details about the 3 Lanes or what FreedUp looks like, be sure to read this post on our website.
Take steps today toward greater financial freedom and deepening the joy that comes from being one of God’s stewards. Get FreedUp.
As we move into this Lenten season, the Board of World Mission invites you to contemplate the role of Christian mission in the world. Jesus’s ministry focused on love and social justice, but what does that mean for us this year as we pray and prepare for Easter?
When we consider that Easter and Earth Day fall in the same week this year, a hymn comes to mind:
For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies;
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.*
We spend Lent preparing ourselves for Good Friday through prayers of repentance. This year we are offered the opportunity to consider not only our daily actions as Christians, but our actions as created beings connected to God’s beautiful earth. Our mission to care for our neighbor remains the cornerstone of Christian love and action in the world. Perhaps this year we expand our definition of neighbor to include all the living beings and the earth on which all life depends. So this Lent, may we prayerfully consider how we can support missions to care for all our neighbors who live in the glory of God’s creation.
*For The Beauty of The Earth by Folliott S. Pierpoint, 1864
Crossroads Spring 2022
STORY OF CHRISTIANITY-The Story of Christianity is a look at how our religion has developed from the time of the New Testament until now. Rev. Dr. Bill Falla moves the class through centuries of faith and church development across the globe. 8) Mondays, 6-9 pm
March 7 – May 2, 2022 (except Holy Week April 11)
Instructor: Rev. Dr. William Falla.Tentative in-person (Bahnson Center) and Real-time Distance Learning via Zoom-Price: $240
MY JOURNEY/OUR JOURNEY-My Journey/Our Journey explores personal and group spiritual formation with the leadership of Rev. Maggie Wellert, Spiritual Director. 8) Thursdays, 6-9 pm March 10 – May 5, 2022 (except Holy Week April 14)
Instructor: Rev. Maggie Wellert
Tentative in-person (Bahnson Center) and Real-time Distance Learning via Zoom-Price: $240
For more Information:
Moravian Music Sunday
Recognizing that music is a means of proclaiming the Gospel,
we celebrate Moravian Music on the fifth Sunday of Easter,
May 15, 2022
This year, the theme is the 300th anniversary of the founding of Herrnhut, Germany, which remains the administrative (and for many, the spiritual) center of the worldwide Moravian unity.
All the materials you need for a meaningful worship service are provided in PDF form at https://moravianmusic.org/moravian-music-sunday-2022/ WORD documents or hard copies are available upon request [email protected]
Readings for Holy Week Special Bundles
Experience the story at home or in your small group with these special Readings for Holy Week book and CD sets:
Audio CDs and Large Print Edition Set: $30.00 (save $6.90)
Audio CDs and Music Edition Set: $32.00 (save $6.90)
Readings for Holy Week Print Editions:
Special pricing: Large Print Ed. $11.95 SALE $7.50; Music Print Ed. $13.95 SALE $10.50
Readings for Holy Week Audio Edition:
This 5-CD set brings Readings for Holy Week alive with complete texts and hymns, ideal for use by small groups and congregations. Also makes a great gift for those who may not be able to attend local services because of distance, infirmity, conflicts in schedule, etc. $24.95
Now in stock in the IBOC store: 8″ plush lamb and 4″ plush little lamb ornament from Gann Memorials just in time for Easter baskets! Large lamb is $22.50; small lamb is $6.00.
To order, visit store.moravian.org: call Jill Bruckart at 800.732.0591 ext. 703 or email [email protected]