United States of America: Renewing Faith

Salvation - not for sale

Reclaiming, Reviving, Rethinking, Renewing Faith for Millennials

Young reformers: Christine Shander and Nicole Newman

Church: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Implementation period: August 2016 to October 2018

How many people were involved? 19+

How many people did you reach? 4600+ (Social media), 50 applicants for the first cohort, 19 participants in New Orleans

Links to the Project : www.elcayoungreformers.org


What did you aim at?

Accompanying young adults as they deepen in faith, discover their identity, uncover their vocation, and develop as servant leaders who do justice in the world.


What did you achieve?

  • Invited and created a group of 19 young adults from different ELCA Synods across the United States to be together for a weekend of fellowship, dialogue, prayer and study.

  • Attended, as a group, the “Grace Gathering” held in conjunction with the national ELCA Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans, August 2016.

  • Produced short videos on hopes for the church and how participants had seen God at work.

  • Used social media for promoting young adult voices and faith. One of the videos about young people’s views about the church and their voice has over 4600 Facebook views.

  • We are working on developing an online space to continue networking and empowering young adults in our Church. We will convene online meetings throughout the summer and provide web publications empowering young adults.


What did you do?

Coordination of our group at the time together in New Orleans. Coordinated young adult contacts, facilitated small group sessions, presentations about LWF and the international young reformers movement, filmed and edited video and connected our group through online emails/meetings. We are working to connect our cohort members (those who gathered in August) with synod leaders, and working to get the young adults voice into clergy groups and other generations throughout the ELCA

Interview with young reformers

What is the ongoing reformation you want to see in your church?

I would like to see empowerment of the youth and young adults in the ELCA, to see their presence and voices genuinely welcomed, and their work in the church supported. As this generation speaks up against issues in society, we want to see dialogue and change, rather than to be ignored or dismissed. We want to be creative in rethinking, reviving and renewing our faith and community.


What has been the reaction of the project among the youth?

The group was excited to be together and start this movement in the ELCA. We are empowered by being together, meeting new people and learning from one another. We are reminded that there are youth and young adults in our church, even when we don’t always see them in the pews with us

How has been the participation of the youth in the reformation project?

We had 19 youth participating from the different ELCA synods and regions. Our gathering in New Orleans was coordinating by about 5 volunteer and Churchwide staff members. This group became the ELCA Young Reformers. It’s the one creating the videos and raising the voice of the youth through social media and website.

What has been challenging about creating the project?

It’s been challenging coordinating the project, website and social media. We set out to have team members from all different states, but the difficulty in being from different places means we are all in different time zones, struggling to find an ideal time for all to meet online. Additionally, we are diverse in our current occupations. Some of us are students, work one full-time job or work multiple part-time jobs; it is hard to plan together with such different schedules.


Did everything go as planned?

No, in the church things rarely go as planned, but there is beauty in that! We have been pleasantly surprised by the work of the Spirit bringing us together and moving us in new directions. We are thankful for the support of LWF and ELCA helping make our project possible

How do you see the continuity of the project?

We will continue with the website/facebook and keep raising young adult’s voices. We will organize the virtual Easter to Pentecost devotional written by ELCA Young Reformers and we will continue online meetings, web publications and social media. Also, young adults will try to organize activities in the local congregations and synods in a lower scale.