Trinity International University has received a grant of $1,250,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc., to help Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) continue to work with Christian congregations as they reimagine their approaches for reaching out to and nurturing the religious lives of young adults (ages 23–29).
Over the past five years, TEDS has worked directly with twelve congregations in Waukegan through the Mosaic Young Adult Initiative (MYAI). Despite prominent narratives of young adults leaving congregations, we observed how certain changes in congregational culture and in missional vision fostered young adult spiritual flourishing and appealed to unchurched young adults. Through these innovations, while drawing upon rich spiritual and cultural traditions, a new movement emerged in Waukegan—a collaboration between a seminary and twelve congregations for a community.
Pastor Carlos Herrera, lead pastor of Journey Church in Waukegan, said, “I have seen Jesus’s prayer of unity (John 17) being answered in beautiful ways in the church of Waukegan.”
TEDS launched the initiative in 2017 with support from an earlier grant from Lilly Endowment through its Young Adult Initiative. The nationwide initiative aims to help congregations develop and strengthen ministries that build relationships with young adults, nurture their religious lives and foster their engagement with religious communities.
In the initiative’s second phase, the MYAI will deepen and expand the work in northern Lake County by investing in key young adult leaders, convening congregations for collaboration and peer learning, and supporting “third space” outreach initiatives. These dynamic programs and initiatives will also afford opportunities for formal internships and informal participation of TEDS MA, MDiv, DMin, and PhD students.
Dean of TEDS David Pao said, “The Mosaic Young Adult Initiative embodies a number of central values of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School: insistence on the centrality of the gospel in the training of an emerging generation of young adults, preparedness in addressing intercultural and intergenerational issues within an urban context, commitment to the ministry of the local churches, and attention to the needs of the communities within which such local churches serve. We are grateful for the Lilly Endowment for their support in this significant initiative.”
As a result of this initiative, we hope to see (1) young adults flourishing in their identity in Christ, sense of belonging in the church, and discernment of missional purpose; (2) congregations thriving in their support of young adults and in their sense of missional calling for their community; (3) cities positively influenced by collaborations of local congregations; and (4) the work sustained and amplified through TEDS and young adult spiritual leadership programs.
“It is our hope that this seminary-church-community collaboration inspires growing ecosystems of learning and ministry, particularly for emerging generations of young adults,” said Daniel Hartman, director of Mosaic Ministries. Mosaic Ministries, a ministry at TEDS that aims to advance reconciliation and renewal by equipping students, developing resources, and creating new networks, will be overseeing the initiative.
TEDS is one of twelve theological schools that are receiving this grant from Lilly Endowment through the second phase of its Young Adult Initiative.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States.