And Finally: December 2017

I am needed. I am heard. I belong. I make a difference. I know what I believe and I know why I believe it. People who are committed to their church family have these affirmations in common. Whether a congregant is 12 or 65, studies are showing that if a church member feels a sense of belonging and being understood, they will commit to a church family for many years to come. The question is what behavior needs to happen in churches for their congregants to assert this?

This is the very question Generation Spark aims to answer. Generation Spark is a research project being launched by the Hope College Center for Leadership and is funded by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment. Generation Spark is piloting a program beginning with 6 churches, giving them a research-based action plan to not only retain youth (ages 16-24) and older adults (ages 45 and up), but also attract and fully integrate them into the life and leadership of the church. The strategy will be implemented through one-to-one mentoring relationships, prayer partners, and identifying a project opportunity in the church that influences change in either the church or the greater community.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, Hope Church has mutually decided with the team at Generation Spark to participate in this program. A lot of discernment has gone into this since I first learned about the program in July. I met with the leadership team of Generation Spark several times along with Pastor Gordon, before discussing the opportunity with consistory. Then, we formed an exploratory committee made up of 4 older adults, 7 youth/young adults, and 2 pastors. After listening to a presentation from the Generation Spark team and spending time processing and discussing the program, the Hope Church exploratory team gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. Both the exploratory team and consistory feel Generation Spark will be a great program to work in tandem with the initiatives we have set in my role as Pastor of Discipleship. We believe the program will help us capitalize on one of the greatest aspects of Hope Church, our diversity in age. We believe Generation Spark will challenge and assist us in becoming more integrated across generations and that this will be a gift for the future health of not only our church, but the greater church, as Generation Spark studies the outcomes of our work.

There is so much more I could share! You will be hearing much more in the weeks to come as we ready to launch the program in early March, but I wanted to bring the exciting news to you here first. I welcome any questions you have and if you already think this is something you want to be a part of, either as a part of the leadership team, or as a mentoring or prayer partner, I would love to hear that too. Stay tuned!

~Pastor Beth