January 20, 2023
The Young Adult Leadership Network seeks to cultivate community among young adult Christian leaders, amplify their ministries in a variety of local contexts, and inspire other young adults to lead from their own Christian faith. In 2023 the network will begin with a fellowship program. Fellows ages 23-29 will be nominated from across the country to participate in a year-long leadership acceleration cohort to build relationships with each other and strengthen local ministries. Fellows will receive coaching and subgrants to accelerate and launch local ministry projects. They will also receive funding to visit leaders who have sparked their Christian imagination.
Kenda Creasy Dean, Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church and Culture and Faculty Senior Strategist for the Network, notes, “One of the greatest needs for young Christian leaders is a network of peers. Of course the Network will allow these young leaders to support and resource one another, but also to remind them that they are not alone. We hear from young adult Christian leaders that they feel like they are completely alone in their work. The Network’s peer-learning approach is designed to surround these young leaders with gifted peers who ‘get it.’”
In future years, an array of publicly available opportunities will be available for young adults to hone their leadership skills, discern their calling, and amplify their stories in public life. Project Director Shari Oosting shares, “The dominant narrative about young adults is that they are losing their faith. It’s a story of decline. But we know that isn’t the only story, and it’s not true of all young people. We want to complexify what has become an oversimplified story by shining a spotlight on young adults who lead in their neighborhoods, congregations, and ministries from a deep and vibrant faith. We are so excited to learn with and from these compelling young adults across the United States.”
Alongside work with young adults, the Network will engage an extensive research and mapping project to learn from organizations who serve and inspire young adult Christian leaders. Learnings will be publicly shared so that pastors, parents, educators, and young adults themselves can better understand the landscape and scope of vibrant Christian leadership among people in their 20’s. Associate Dean of Continuing Education Abigail Visco Rusert reflects, “Moving from a lens of scarcity to a lens of curiosity is a focus of this project. We want to focus on the places and spaces where young adults are already building a bridge between their faith, their work, and their community. Leaders who love the church have something to learn from the stories of young adults.”
The Young Adult Leadership Network at Princeton Theological Seminary is funded by a generous $4 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. and is housed in Princeton Seminary’s Office of Continuing Education. The work will be led by Abigail Visco Rusert (associate dean of Continuing Education), Kenda Creasy Dean (faculty senior strategist), and Shari Oosting (project director).
“What I like about working in an international church is that I’m always reminded that I’m a foreigner, that the land is not mine and I’m just a passenger on this journey.”