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Engaging Young Adults Through a New Form of Ministry

With a desire to connect with unreached populations in their area, Northview Church embarked on the Engaging Young Adults Initiative with the Center for Congregations. Read to learn more about Northview Church and their grant project journey.

Northview Church is a nondenominational congregation with multiple locations throughout the Indianapolis area. With a passion for connecting people with God, and people with people, Northview set their sights on bridging the gap between their church and unreached populations within the area.

“In 2019, we had been talking as a staff about how to reach young adult populations,” says Kurt Brodbeck, Family Ministry Pastor at Northview Church. “We knew that within a five-mile radius of many of our campuses, there was a pretty large number of young adults. However, our congregation was not necessarily connecting with this group as much as we were with young families and their children.”

Upon reviewing research on young adults and their connection to religion, Kurt found that many 18 to 29-year-olds are not walking in their faith at this point in time. In fact, 64% of those who used to attend church regularly in their youth, stop between those ages.

“We began to think: if our church was all about being evangelistic and meeting people where they’re at,” says Kurt, “and if this is an age group that no one else is really reaching in our area, then we need to try.”

After combing through books and research, Our central lead team designed a new service specifically designed to engage young adults. They called it “Northview Next.” However, despite launching the service at three Northview campuses, attendance was low.

“The reality was that Northview Next had failed,” says Kurt. “It was one of those things that started off exciting, but it was not quite what young adults were looking for.”

It was around that same time when Kurt received an email from the Center for Congregations announcing the Engaging Young Adults Initiative, a grant project with a two-year program for congregational teaching and planning.

“When I saw that email, I was on the heels of failure,” says Kurt. “It was perfect timing. So, I grabbed a couple of young adults from our leadership team and we jumped right in.”

About half-way through the initiative, as Northview Church was attempting to formulate a plan for their grant project, Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas, reached out to them with a proposition. They were home to The Porch, the largest young adult ministry in the country with over 4,000 weekly attendees.

“Watermark Community Church started doing what they call Porch Live, starting their young adult ministry at various other locations in the U.S.,” says Kurt. “They were looking for a host site in Indianapolis and found our church. They asked if we would be interested in partnering with them.”

Through conversations with Watermark Community, Northview Church learned that their theological beliefs and doctrine lined up very closely with one another. On top of that, Watermark Community had the playbook on how to run a successful young adult ministry and Northview was searching for a service to launch coming out of their Engaging Young Adults Initiative. Just like that, a plan was hatched.

northview-porch“We began working closely with Watermark Community,” says Kurt. “We flew them up to spend a couple of days with us, teaching and talking about their experience, and I sent one of my team members down to Dallas to witness what they were doing. We learned very quickly that this was going to be a good fit for us as a church.”

After submitting their grant proposal and receiving funding from the Center for Congregations, Northview Church launched the first official Porch Live Indy location in February of 2021. In the first night, 234 young adults showed up. Throughout the remainder of the semester, Porch Live Indy averaged about 175 to 190 attendees every single week.

“It exceeded our expectations,” says Kurt. “We see so many young adults that we didn’t know before come back each Thursday night to attend. Many have even started serving on teams, joining small groups, and attending our weekend services at Northview.”

The Engaging Young Adults Initiative has not only helped Northview Church start and sustain Porch Live Indy, but now, they’re taking that model and launched a second Porch Live location in Lafayette near Purdue University this past fall.

The Engaging Young Adults Initiative has brought excitement and pride to Northview Church as they’ve been able to better reach young adults within their surrounding areas. Kurt explains that it is worth getting involved in learning opportunities, such as the ones provided by the Center for Congregations, as they can transform ministry for congregations.

“I appreciate the Center for providing churches with the opportunity to live out their specific DNA in the context of their communities,” says Kurt. “We were able to adapt what we were learning to fit our congregation’s needs and it was a game changer.”