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This Month in Mission for May 2023

The summer is here! I hope all the graduations, vacations, and seasonal changes get off to a good start for you, and that what follows helps you think through how your congregation moves forward in reaching new people.

Idea worth considering: Millennials aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity.

The full quote from Rachel Held Evans’ book Searching for Sunday: “Millennials aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity… We’re looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity. Like every generation before ours and every generation after, we’re looking for Jesus—the same Jesus who can be found in the strange places he’s always been found: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these.”

When I hear congregations talking about young people, there’s a few common ideas, but I have never heard a congregation starting with being a more authentic church or a place where young people can put their values and beliefs into action. While Rachel Held Evans was speaking about Millennials, survey data tells us the same is largely true for Gen Z – people remain open to religion, Jesus, and Christianity. But they aren’t willing to get out of bed on Sunday morning for a church that they see as hypocritical or simply existing as a social club. We don’t need to worry about being cool. As much as it’s a buzzword, authentic is the way to go.

Young adults have a higher standard for the church, not a lower one. They are looking for communities of Jesus that look more like Jesus – in service, in love, in practice, and in making a difference in the community. To do more effective outreach, we need to change our narrative from “they don’t care and don’t want to work” to “they care deeply and want to do meaningful work.” Millennial and Gen Z criticisms and reasons for not participating may be telling us more about our communities of faith than the generations we are quick to criticize.

Resource worth a look: The Congregational Vitality Survey.

While it’s been our practice in South Carolina to use the Vitality Survey during the call process (and we still do), this isn’t the only use or purpose of this tool. The Congregational Vitality Survey gives a snapshot of a congregation, its ministries, and health, all through a self-assessment of a congregation.

It’s not the be-all, end-all, but it holds up a mirror to how a congregation sees itself and its ministries. It may be a way for a pastor or leader to hold up the snapshot of where a congregation is to help it get where it wants to go. That snapshot of a moment can be helpful in initiating change, a new program, starting a conversation about mission and vision, or any number of things. However you might like to use it, it can lay the foundation of “this is where we are now” before you set out on where you want to go.

If you’re interested in more information about this for your congregation, reach out – I’m here to help you with this, and now that it’s free, there’s no reason you can’t use this in whatever way it is helpful for your ministry.

Don’t forget: Congregational Vitality Team Event May 17th

Are you looking for ways to expand faith formation beyond Sunday morning? The Congregational Vitality Team will be hosting an event for rostered ministers to get together and explore faith formation possibilities beyond Sunday morning. Deacon Deb Poole and Pastor Amanda Burke will be leading us in hybrid conversation on May 17th at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Newberry from 10:30 to 12:30. Light snacks and coffee will be available. A zoom link will be available to all who register who wish to attend virtually.

Thanks for Reading

We’ve got assembly coming up – let’s connect! I’d love to sit down with you and hear how things are going and if there’s any way I can walk with you and your congregation. Let me know ahead of time, track me down during, or send smoke signals – I’m never too busy for good conversation.

If you know someone who would like to receive this, please forward it to them. If someone has forwarded this to you and you’re interested in more please email and ask to be added to the This Month in Mission” newsletter list.

In Christ,


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We are the church that shares a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. Liberated by our faith, we embrace you as a whole person–questions, complexities and all. Join us as we do God’s work in Christ’s name for the life of the world.

Contact Information

ELCA South Carolina Synod
1003 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Telephone 803-765-0590
Fax 803-252-5558

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