Motivated by what’s been called a mass exodus of young people from the Christian faith, Fuller Theological Seminary has brought together more than 100 organizations to collaborate on making “faith matter more to 10 million young people over the next ten years.” Called TENx10, the initiative launched Oct. 10, 2023, in Chicago, Ill. On their website they say, “Now is the time to combine our efforts to reach the next generation.”
Ron DeVries, youth and emerging adult ministry consultant with the CRCNA’s Thrive ministry, attended the launch and is the point person for the CRC’s engagement with TENx10 (pronounced “ten by ten”).
“TENx10 is an initiative that was birthed out of research that has been highlighting the mass exodus of young people leaving the (faith) space,” DeVries said. He said that Fuller Theological Seminary has spent the last five years bringing together denominations, ministries, agencies, and church organizations that have a youth ministry focus and asking questions like, “How can we work together? How can we set aside some of our doctrinal differences and for the sake of the kingdom, for the sake of the saving grace of Jesus Christ?” These conversations led to TENx10.
Fig VanderMolen, youth pastor at Messiah CRC in Hudsonville, Mich., also attended the launch. He said, “I believe the biggest strength of the initiative is the collaborative effort. One of the largest stones in the hands of the disenfranchised youth in this generation seems to be the fact that churches don't often like to work together.”
He added, “There is a large amount of prayer happening out there centered around the next generation of Christians. It has been a joy to participate in these prayers and a great encouragement to see so many people involved.”
DeVries, who said the Christian Reformed Church was invited because “we have a relational connection to some of the authors from Fuller and from organizations like Youth Alpha,” recognizes “this is a long-term goal, and we’re in it for the long run.”
TENx10’s launch, held intentionally on the tenth day of the tenth month, featured the theme verse John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Brian Bork, campus ministry coordinator with Resonate Global Mission, was also there. Though Resonate isn’t an official partner with TENx10 currently, they are exploring ways to participate. “I'm excited for the breadth and diversity of voices represented at TENx10. This was one of the most diverse church gatherings I've ever attended! There's a unifying power to a shared project like this,” he said.
Bork added, “I'm excited about the possibilities of using it as a spark for inter-agency collaboration in the CRC.”
DeVries, too, imagines denomination-wide involvement. There are people in our churches who genuinely want to walk alongside our young adults, he said, “so, what would it look like for all our churches, all our 1,000 congregations, to model that in some way?”
TENx10 is planning gatherings for their partners to collaborate on, and is equipping their partners with resources to support them in reaching young adults. Youth pastors and senior leaders can take a quiz on the TENx10 website to learn more about what specific tools may be beneficial for their situation.