Fuller Youth Institute Receives $1.5 Million to Facilitate Church Innovation


The Fuller Youth Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary received a grant of $1.5 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to conduct a new research project, Ministry Innovations with Young Adults (MIYA). This 5-year study will involve cohorts of churches ready to experiment in their ministry strategies with 23- to 29-year-olds, with an adaptive and empathetic posture toward the complexities facing today’s post-college young adults. Participating churches will invest two years experimenting and testing young adult ministry strategies and ideas. Through this project, Fuller anticipates developing more effective resources for leaders in ministry with young adults, as well as enhancing innovative competencies in churches nationwide.

"The beauty and challenge of ministry with young adults is the constant need to keep our ears to the ground and our structures nimble,” said Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Seminary. “The MIYA project integrates the energy of innovation with the agelessness of Jesus' invitation. We eagerly await the discoveries bound to emerge from this endeavor."

For more than a decade, the Fuller Youth Institute has conducted research on topics relating to ministry with teenagers, faith development in emerging adults, and churches exemplary in engaging young people. Its latest work brings to light young adults’ religious yearnings, spiritual struggles, and need for support, as well as the ways churches can best respond. Through data from previous research, the team led by Dr. Kara Powell, executive director, has identified three pressing developmental needs of today’s young adults: identity, belonging, and purpose. A success of MIYA will be to effectively train churches to minister to young adults seeking answers to their toughest life questions.

The grant will be spearheaded by Dr. Powell and Dr. Steven Argue, an expert in emerging adult spirituality and religion. To achieve the goals of this project, the Fuller Youth Institute plans to use this grant toward the following purposes:

  • To nurture a learning environment of support and challenge, creating space for leaders to develop relationships and take faithful risks.

  • To help participating congregations become fluent in young adults’ current life-stage opportunities, needs, and longings; and to co-create innovative initiatives with young adults.

  • To dedicate $300,000 for matching grant funds for congregations to implement new innovations. Further grant opportunities will also be provided.

  • To develop new resources and training opportunities for congregations and ministry leaders that are eventually disseminated nationwide.

Fuller is one of 12 organizations around the nation taking part in Lilly Endowment’s Young Adults Initiative, an effort to help congregations design and launch new ministries with young adults. They are colleges, universities and seminaries located in 10 states and the District of Columbia and they reflect diverse Christian traditions – Mainline Protestant, evangelical and historic African American denominations, as well as Roman Catholic, Orthodox and independent congregations.

For more information on Fuller Youth Institute, visit:

(626) 584-5200
(800) 235-2222
135 N. Oakland Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91182