Crossfit. Yoga. Hip-Hop.
Over the last decade, researchers have tracked a rapid increase among Americans who claim no religious affiliation. In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated—popularly known as “the nones”—have increased from just over 15% to 20% of all U.S. adults. This decline in religiosity is most marked among Millennials, young adults born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s. Yet, this decline in religious affiliation has not made Americans less spiritual—we are simply seeking spirituality in places other than the local church. From the rise of social-physical events such as Crossfit and Color Runs to the proliferation of hip-hop, young adults are seeking meaning and transcendence in unlikely places.
In New Testament Greek, kaleō means “to call, to invite”. Where can the Millennial Nones be found in the Denver area? How can churches in the Denver area call out to them, inviting them into life-giving relationships? This is the focus and the mission of the Kaleo Project, Denver Seminary’s arm of the Lilly Endowment’s Young Adult Initiative.
Over the past three years, 13 churches successfully navigated innovative ways to minister to young adults through this program. As is the final year of the study, the Kaleo Project is working diligently to disseminate research. One of the mediums for achieving this goal has been through the Christian Curious Radio Show and Podcast, which is a show dedicated to discussing issues pertinent to ministering to young adults.
This fall, seventeen churches from across the Denver metro area were selected for the project. The awarded Kaleo churches are:
New Life Community Church
Deer Creek Church
Mission Hills Church
Parker Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Halee Gray Scott, PhD, Director of the Kaleo Project
Halee is a former “None,” passionate about learning how to reach those who are, like she once was, in spiritual darkness. Halee is an author and social researcher who focuses on issues related to leadership and spiritual formation. Her writing has appeared in Christianity Today, The Washington Post, Christian Education Journal, Real Clear Religion, Relevant, and Books and Culture. Her book, Dare Mighty Things: Mapping the Challenges of Leadership for Christian Women (Zondervan, 2014) explores the challenges facing female Christian leaders in ministry. As an international speaker and consultant, Halee helps ministries and Christian organizations equip women for ministry. She is currently at work on a book to communicate the findings of the Kaleo Project and the state of Young Adult Ministry in a post-Christian culture In her spare time, she loves to run and to bake bread. She lives in Littleton, CO, with her husband, Paul, and their two daughters, Ellie and Viv. Soli deo gloria.
Hannah Echols Grieser, Administrative Assistant
Hannah graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English and is currently pursuing an MA at Denver Seminary in cultural engagement. Her jobs include working as the administrative assistant to the Kaleo Project and serving as a copywriter for the nonprofit WealthBuilders and as an editor/writer for local lifestyle publications. In her free time, Hannah enjoys spending time with her husband Mason and puppy Gabe, cooking, and being in the sunshine.
Kaleo Project Resources
Better Together: Millennials
Smith, Christian, and Patricia Snell. (2009). Souls in Transition: The religious and spiritual lives of emerging adults. New York: Oxford University Press.
Dean, Kenda Creasy. (2010). Almost Christian: What the faith of our teenagers is telling the American Church. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
Drescher, Elizabeth. (2016). Choosing our religion: The spiritual lives of America’s nones. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
Barna. (2014). Designing worship spaces with Millennials in mind. Accessed March 16, 2017. https://www.barna.com/research/designing-worship-spaces-with-millennials-in-mind/
Rainer, Thom S., and Jess. W. Rainier. (2011). The millennials: Connecting to American’s largest generation. Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group.
Thurston, Angie, & Casper Ter Kuile. How we gather. (Producers). Accessed April 21, 2017. https://caspertk.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/how-we-gather.pdf
White, James E. (2014). The rise of the nones: Understanding and reaching the religiously unaffiliated. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.
White, James E. (2017). Meet generation z: Understanding and reaching the new post-Christian world. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.
Blomberg, Craig, & Elizabeth Nesbit. (2016). Effective generational ministry: Biblical and practical insights for transforming church communities. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.
Crouch, Andy. (2013). Culture making: Recovering our creative calling. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Books.
Eliot, T.S. (1977). Christianity and culture. Orlando, FL: Harcourt.
Fitch, David. (2016). Faithful presence: Seven disciplines that shape the church for mission. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP.
Hunter, James Davidson. (2010). To change the world: The irony, tragedy, and possibility of Christianity in the late modern world. New York: Oxford University Press.
Keller, Timothy. (2016). Loving the city: Doing balanced, gospel-centered ministry in your city. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.