Staying rooted

The unfortunate statistics about Millennials and church attendance are no secret. According to a 2014 Religious Landscape Study conducted by the Pew Research Center, about four in ten Millennials (adults born between 1981 and 1996) consider religion to be very important in their lives (compared to every other demographic, which were over 50%), and only 28% attend religious services at least once a week.

Young Christians need to feel a sense of belonging in their congregations. But many are not making church a priority, and those that go to services tend to find themselves without many in their age group. Church events often are targeted toward families or older members of the congregation.

Groups like Rooted Colorado: WELS Young Adults are making an effort to encourage young Lutherans in their faith through fellowship and God’s Word.

Rooted was created in 2011 by several young people from neighboring WELS churches in Colorado. While it might be difficult for a single church to bolster its young people activities, the idea was made easier by combining the churches in the greater Front Range area. “When the young adult group at St. Peter, Fort Collins, heard of a young adult group forming in Zion, Denver, we decided to get together after the area Reformation service and invite young adults from the surrounding congregations to join us as well,” says Dan Kleist, a member at St. Peter, Fort Collins. “We’ve been meeting ever since!”

The first gathering was just food and games, but these Coloradans were looking to enjoy the great outdoors as well. Now Rooted meets once a month, with a different Colorado congregation serving as host each time. They start with a Bible study, followed by a special activity ranging from disc golf and beach volleyball to bowling and movies. Interspersed between these regular monthly gatherings are big events, like concerts, camping trips, or ski weekends.

There is a special emphasis on studying God’s Word. Bible studies are usually conducted by the host congregation’s pastor, covering a wealth of in-depth topics like evangelizing, homosexuality, atheism, judgment, and marriage. “[A benefit has been] having 20+ people take serious time out of their lives to meet and then having them voluntarily express afterwards that they really appreciated the Bible study,” says James Free, a member at St. Peter.

Rooted not only creates a community of young Colorado Christians, but it also welcomes new faces to the area. Many transplants (myself included) knew no one when they first came to Colorado. The welcoming atmosphere of Rooted not only provided new friendly roots in a new state but also strengthened roots into Christ and his Word.

The success of the group continues even after people leave the area. The Colorado group now has a sister group in the Phoenix area. “We’ve had a couple vicars who have been involved in the past take interest in offering something similar in the area they’ve been called to serve,” says Kleist. Plus, Rooted is not the only group in WELS targeted toward this demographic. Several groups have started in the Midwest as well.

What are the long-term goals for Rooted? Says Amy Maurer, a member at Christ Our Redeemer, Aurora, Colo., “Hopefully we will be able to establish a solid organizational structure so Rooted can be enjoyed throughout WELS for generations to come and grow in their faith.”

Claire Natsis


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Author: Claire Natsis
Volume 103, Number 11
Issue: November 2016

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