Our Story

What do we do?

It’s no secret that young adults are attending church less frequently. Many churches are asking questions like, why is this happening? What’s wrong with young adults? What’s wrong with us? Many of you might be asking the same questions.

Pivot NW is here, first of all, to tell you that you’re not alone in your questions and struggles. Second of all, we’re here to help. We gather, guide, and mentor churches to help them better understand young adulthood (which we define as ages 23-29) and build relationships with young adults in their communities.

What are we learning?

Our research has led us to many interesting conclusions, the most important being that young adult involvement leads to healthier congregations. If you and your church feel called to develop relationships with the young adults in your community, Pivot NW can help. Read 5 Things You Can Do Right Now to get a head start. These steps have effectively helped our participating congregations attract, develop, and keep young adults in their communities. You can also check out our research page to get into the nitty-gritty of what we’re learning.

How'd we get started?

Pivot NW is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Lilly Endowment and is based at Seattle Pacific University. Dr. Jeff Keuss, professor of Christian ministry, theology, and culture secured the funding in 2017 and serves as Executive Director and Principal Investigator. Under his leadership, the Pivot NW team works with faith communities in the Greater Seattle Area, helping them better understand the experiences of young adults and working with them to design, launch, and evaluate new ministries.

To whom are we talking?

We collaborate with SPU’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and SPU’s University Ministries. While SPU is affiliated with the Free Methodist denomination, we are an ecumenical organization. Outside of the university, we invite locally and nationally recognized thought-leaders to share their expertise and innovation with our church partners. We draw on their knowledge and experience of faith-sanctified creativity, honest and humble critique of the church’s engagement with culture, and constructive leadership formation. Specifically, we seek out people who are interested in community-building collaboration and reconciliation through a spirit of Christ-centered discipleship. We believe in ecumenical collaboration, connecting churches and thought-leaders from various traditions to encourage, support, and inspire one another.

How do we approach our work?

The Pivot NW team takes an interdisciplinary approach; we are a combination of theologians and Industrial-Organizational Psychology PhD candidates and faculty. Working with the I-O Psych department allows us to do in-depth research that helps churches better understand young adults, themselves, and what it takes to create lasting change within their congregations.

We’ve been talking with and researching young adults, learning about their perspectives and needs. Simultaneously, we’ve been working with churches to better understand themselves so they can create new and innovative ministries to engage young adults. We guide congregations in discovering their cultural niche so they can utilize their strengths as they seek to build relationships with young adults. We also want to help churches give agency to young adults, allowing those young adults to shape experiences that nourish their religious lives and contribute to the well-being of the larger congregation.

Where are we headed?

Our five-year grant period ends (date, year). At that time, we will conclude work with our church partners and present our findings to the broader Pacific Northwest church community through various publications and other resources, some of which you can already find on our website. It’s our hope that though we as an organization may no longer exist, the work of Pivot NW will live on, providing guidance to congregations seeking to revitalize themselves by valuing the perspectives and contributions of young adults.

What We Believe

The Mission

Our mission is to help churches in the Pacific Northwest better engage young adults. We want to assist churches in creating new and innovative ministries that generate spaces and opportunities for young adults to exercise their own agency in shaping experiences that nourish their religious lives.

The Vision

We envision a shift in Pacific Northwest church culture that views young adults as valuable members of church communities, recognizing their contributions and elevating them to positions of influence and leadership within the congregation.

Our Values

Christian Church

We value the Christian Church and choose to work with churches.

Young Adult Input

We value the input of young adults and, with humility, are constantly checking our work against their own conclusions about their needs and contexts.

Young Adult Empowerment

We value the empowerment of young adults and believe giving power to young adults brings new life to churches.

Christian Doctrine

We are a Christian organization and value the affirmation of scripture and the ecumenical creeds of the Church.

Broad Conclusions

We seek to be broad enough in our conclusions that they can be useful to the diverse manifestation of the Church.

Specific Conclusions

We seek to be specific enough in our conclusions to effectively help young adults feel welcome in and wanted by churches.

Diversity

We value diversity, equity, and inclusion and seek to incorporate diverse voices in all aspects of our work.

Innovation

We value innovative thinking and would rather try new ideas and fail than keep the status quo. 

Faithfulness

We value faithfulness more than success. 

Want to learn more?

If you still want to learn more about us, send us your questions by filling out the form below.