Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A CHANGING CULTURE: ¨What about God?¨



(much like U.S. America is changing, thanks Elizabeth Kaeton+

¨Among millennials, who are loosely defined as those aged 18-34 in 2015, only the elders remember life
before the internet.7 We were all under 21 when the Twin Towers went down in 2001, and we came

of age through the Great Recession and bank bailouts of 2008. Whereas our older siblings distrust
big institutions, millennials assume that the model must change or die. Whereas our parents bucked
authority, millennials assume that impractical idealism is just as disappointing. And whereas our
grandparents pursued the American Dream, millennials assume that success is more like Choose Your
Own Adventure.

These generalities are crude and rife with exceptions, but they set the stage for some assumptions made
by organizational leaders in this report. For instance, they assume that for institutions to work, they must
become values-led, sustainable networks; that for idealism to work, it must yield measurable and scalable
results; that for success to work, it must affect some kind of transformation, beginning with the inner life
of the individual and radiating out to touch the world.
What does it mean to touch the world in 2015? This is a moment when Brené Brown’s TED Talks
on vulnerability and Taylor Swift’s random acts of kindness go viral. It’s a moment when virtual
interconnectivity is more immediate than the ‘real’ world, so that an American millennial feels more
comfortable setting up a Kiva loan to a farmer in Kenya than bringing chicken soup to a neighbor.
Is it possible to harness these new tools of global engagement to deepen our everyday experience of
community as well?

The innovators in our report say yes, not just possible, but necessary. They speak to millennials as
friends, offering positive and practical advice through clean and personable websites. They encourage
an ethos of care for self and others and a mindset of abundance. They argue, explicitly or implicitly, that
each person is a change maker with the opportunity—if not the responsibility—to make change for the
better. And making change means making connection, both broadly in the world and deeply at home.

Overwhelmingly, these organizations use secular language while mirroring many of the functions
fulfilled by religious community. Examples include fellowship, personal reflection, pilgrimage, aesthetic
discipline, liturgy, confession, and worship. Toge
ther, these groups encourage friendship, promoteoge

neighborhood welfare, and spread messages for the betterment of individuals and society
This analysis may be uncomfortable for some of the organizations mapped in this study. Many leaders
are resistant to any public use of spiritual or religious language about their work, even when those
words are important for them personally and are used by their constituents. We invite them to consider
themselves as part of an exciting cultural shift.
Whether it is the November Project running stadium steps
or the Harry Potter Alliance campaigning for Fair Trade chocolate, these organizations are making life
more meaningful for young people. By examining their work through the themes outlined here, we hope
to open a conversation about how such disparate groups might come together to contribute to the wellbeing
and spiritual growth of the rising generation.¨

(color emphasis added by Leonardo Ricardo)

please read it all:

America is changing.

Millennials are less religiously affiliated than ever before. Churches are just one of many institutional
casualties of the internet age in which young people are both more globally connected and more locally
isolated than ever before.
Against this bleak backdrop, a hopeful landscape is emerging. Millennials are flocking to a host of new
organizations that deepen community in ways that are powerful, surprising, and perhaps even religious.
After two years of noticing this happen, we’re sharing our findings in order to start a conversation.
Primarily, we’re speaking to three groups of people:

● Those leading the organizations mentioned in this report and others like them
● Those interested in supporting such organizations and their growth
● Those interested in America’s changing religious landscape

There are dozens of organizations from which we could choose to illustrate what’s happening. We’ve
chosen ten. Each epitomizes a combination of six themes that we see again and again:

Executive Summary

Community Personal



Creativity Accountability

These organizations have a shared ethos. To try to understand it, we map out their ancestry, sibling
projects, and cousins in corporate America. Lastly, because we care about the efficacy and longevity of
this work, we close the report with a few considerations for the organizations and others invested in their

● Who are we serving?
● How are we leading?
● What about God?

We hope that these organizations begin to see themselves as part of a broader cultural shift toward deeper
community. By consciously coming together, we think they could form the DNA of a fruitful movement
for personal spiritual growth and social transformation. We invite you to join us in considering how
millennials are changing the way we gather.
Thank you for reading, and please let us know what you think!

Angie & Casper

Thanks to Elizabeth Kaeton+

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