We had a great turnout at the three listening conversations held over the past few weeks. There were a lot of important questions asked and thoughtful suggestions made. One suggestion we heard from several people is that the Growing Young Together (GYT) team should communicate regularly about what we are working on. So, we are starting with this update and plan to continue these updates throughout this journey!
As many of you know, the Growing Young research identifies six traits that thriving churches exhibit. The Growing Young survey was designed to measure our church’s success along these traits. Based on recommendations from The Fuller Youth Institute, we started this process by listening. We conducted 50+ one-on-one interviews with members of the congregation. We continued to listen at the recent listening conversation meetings that were held on February 5 and 11. We have taken time to study the results of the Growing Young survey, which was completed by 185 church members.
The Fuller Youth Institute suggests that we focus on our church’s weakest characteristics and use the data we’ve gathered from the listening phase and start doing some experiments and making some small changes. Our congregation scored lowest in the “empathy today” and “keychain leadership” traits. We chose to start with “Empathy today.” The word empathy refers to the work you do to understand people. The characteristic of empathy today is defined as the practice of habitually “stepping into the shoes” of young people, and meeting people where they are, without judgement. (Young people being all those under age 40.)
You may have already noticed some small changes taking place! We invited youth to serve as lay readers in worship and incorporated their help in planning the intergenerational worship service. We expanded the Knitting for Others ministry to include some children interested in learning how to knit. The Missions team added a high school student to their team. We held a Pizza and Game Night for everyone who wanted to come (we had 55 people!) We also asked Senior High Fellowship students to attend worship for one month and then meet with the Pastors to ask questions and to provide feedback on the worship services.
In January, The Growing Young Together team expanded to include a total of 14 members. Led by Pastor Phil and Wendy Ludwig, team members include Pastor Karen, Arturo Rodriguez, Liz Lisciandra, Jen Carlson, Tim O’Loughlin, Cian Savoy, Heidi Willson, Christi Barney, Susan Holbrook, Adam Krauss, Jean Mineo, and Carrie Quinlan. We made these additions to broaden the representation and reach of the team. We have been meeting regularly every 2-3 weeks since September.