A Growing Young Mentality

by | Jun 8, 2023

Over the last nine months the Episcopal Diocese of Washington has partnered with Fuller Youth Institute, to assist our congregations in intentionally focusing on rising generations. Six parishes participated in a “Growing Young” cohort, facilitated by Fuller, in order to better meet the needs of young people and accompany them as partners in faith.

The cohort focused on six core commitments, outlined in the book Growing Young, that churches need in order to grow young. These commitments are: key chain leadership, empathy, Jesus’ message, warm relationships, priority everywhere, and being best neighbors.

St. George’s Episcopal Church in Glenn Dale is one of our Growing Young parishes dedicated to strengthening these six core commitments. Mary Frances Bruce, St. George’s team leader, shares this about St. George’s journey to grow young:

Being part of the Growing Young cohort helped us to identify our needs. We held listening sessions, one parish-wide and one for our teens facilitated by a college student, which provided a great opportunity for honest discussion. We distributed the Growing Young Survey to the whole parish and had a good response. We learned that most adults of all ages in the parish cherish our young people and want closer connections. We also learned from our teens, while they felt supported, we needed to do more to help them feel seen and heard.


To that end, we developed goals. We plan to improve our communications and messaging. We want to leverage new ways of using tech tools, especially to keep in touch with our younger members. We hope to build upon the intergenerational relationships in the parish to create an intentional mentoring program that connects all ages in support of one another. We want to develop a way to bring young voices into leadership roles.


Our listening sessions told us we should consider quick changes too. Just taking time to really talk to our young people can make a difference, so we are encouraging those chats. We are creating “table talk” cards for coffee hour with topics generated by our children and teens. We’ll send “care packages” to young adults for exam weeks or other life events. Volunteers will make sure we send notes for special events or just to say hello. We’re planning parish game nights and other intergenerational social events. We’ll keep our traditional youth events and build upon them as we go forward.


Our main take-away from the Growing Young program is that we can make a difference if we commit to keeping our young members in the foreground of our parish life. We are excited about the possibilities as we move forward with a Growing Young mentality. The value, we found, was not just in the information and guidance we received through the cohort, but in the chance to really focus on our young parish members with the time and energy to be creative in imagining for our future together.

This Growing Young mentality is also flourishing among the other parishes in our Growing Young cohort. Growing Young teams are dedicated to living out the six core commitments in their congregations with the intention of building up rising generations. This mentality is something we hope to strengthen throughout our diocese, beyond the parishes in the official cohort.

For more information about Growing Young or how to support rising generations, contact the Rev. Amanda Akes-Cardwell, Missioner for Faith Formation and Development.