Fuller Youth Institute Receives $800,000 in Grants for Innovative Church Research

New research seeks to help churches more effectively engage young people

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The Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) announced today that it has been awarded $800,000 in grants to support a three-year research project to help churches deepen the faith formation of young people, as well as involve and retain them in their congregations.

The generous commitments to fund the project include the Vermeer Charitable Foundation, Tyndale House Foundation, the Hanson Family Charitable Foundation, and Lilly Endowment Inc.

Fuller's "Churches Engaging Young People Project" will study exemplary churches nationwide that have been identified for their thriving ministries with young people ages 15 through 29. The primary goal of this research is that other churches can learn, contextually apply best practices, and become more effective in their ministries to young people.

Serving as director and principal investigator of the "Churches Engaging Young People Project" is Dr. Kara Powell, executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute and assistant professor in Youth and Family Ministry at Fuller. Powell is also author or co-author of several books including Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids.

Citing recent studies that indicate that as many as half of formerly churched young people disengage from God and the church after high school, Powell announced that the aim of the project is to "empower entire congregations with an approach that incorporates extensive studies of church practices that engage youth."

"We are so grateful for the generous support from our grantors to conduct this research and meet an important need," she added.

The study will take place in three stages, beginning with a survey of approximately 200 nominated churches (representing Protestant and Roman Catholic congregations) that have perceived effectiveness in their engagement of young people, ages 15 through 29 years old. Stage two will explore in greater detail the characteristics and practices of 40 churches that are especially noteworthy. Stage three will consist of site visits to 10 of these churches for more analysis. Each stage of the project will include review, evaluation, and input of a national council of 15 experts in the areas of youth ministry or church health. FYI anticipates broad dissemination of the findings through various print, media, and training channels.

The announcement of the grant was made today to a group of nearly 100 church leaders, pastors, staff, and volunteers who had gathered at Fuller Seminary's Pasadena campus to participate in a three-day Sticky Faith Summit. The summits are offered twice a year for churches in the nationwide Sticky Faith Cohort program, a learning group made up of churches committed to applying FYI-provided research to their own youth and family ministries.

Randy Brothers, director of Youth Missions and Ministry at University Presbyterian in Seattle, Washington, said, "FYI's Sticky Faith research and resources have already given our ministry a framework to help our students live into a sustainable faith beyond high school. I'm so excited about the new project because it will expand this focus by involving the entire congregation."

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