“Unfiltered” Awarded a $2500 Grant

Hope students Jessica Ray and Clara Starr were awarded a $2500 Great Commission Grant from the Center for Faithful Leadership.  This follows a $1000 grant in September.  The sponsor is Gospel Communications International.  The Great Commission Grant is part of the Center’s Entrepreneurial Development Program (https://blogs.hope.edu/center-for-faithful-leadership/uncategorized/the-center-entrepreneurial-development/).

You will want to sit down before you read this.

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According to Jessica and Clara:

  • 70% of their generation is leaving the church.
  • Many people in their generation are struggling with questions or situations with their faith.  In order to validate this problem they generated a survey that was given out in the Holland community and another that was emailed to Hope College Students.  For the student survey they received 576 responses.

Here are some of the responses from the Hope College Student Survey.

In church I have felt…

  • “Like I can’t be my true self and reveal my past without being judged.”
  • “Confused.”
  • “Extremely Uncomfortable.”
  • “Loved.”

Some reasons I do not attend church…

  • “There are too many white people, and that doesn’t represent God’s body.”
  • “I am in a stalemate with my faith and church isn’t helping me move, so why do something that is not moving me. It becomes a big fat lie.”
  • “I haven’t been attending because I feel uncomfortable going. In the Catholic church there is a profession of faith and I haven’t been saying it because I don’t know if that’s what I really believe. It is also rather dull and it doesn’t help to answer my questions. I feel uncomfortable in nondenominational churches because it seems like everyone is so deep in his or her faith and that it constantly focuses on the believers going to heaven and the nonbelievers burning in hell.”
  • “I haven’t found a church in Holland that I’ve felt comfortable going to.”
  • “I don’t have a home church here in Holland. I’m frustrated with the surfacey level of the church as of late…I am having a hard time balancing realistic expectations of vulnerability with expectations of the radical love of Jesus being manifest in us as humans..hence, the pause on my search for a home church here.”
  • “I can’t find an LGBT-friendly church.”
  • “ A lot of times, a church service is an hour of cynicism for me, and I don’t think that’s something that is healthy for me.”
  • “Hurt by the church. No one addresses or pays attention as a whole to daily suffering or depression. Everyone wears a mask.”

Has your Church helped you through a hard time?  How?

  • “My faith has helped me. My church has not.”
  • “Simply being there, keeping me from spiraling.”
  • “Listened to personal struggles and provide advice and resources”
  • “It was constant in a time of change.”

“AUTHENTICITY”

These surveys provided them with data that exemplified the fact that many people, ages 18-22 are struggling with their faith. In fact, when asked what they are struggling with (and to check all the answers that apply), here is what students said:

Unfiltered data

Response Percent

Suicide

11.0%

Homelessness

1.3%

Bitterness

28.0%

Premarital Sex

16.6%

Addictions

12.7%

Doubt

58.2%

Criticism of the Church

31.5%

Skepticism of religion

33.8%

Depression

37.1%

Sexuality

8.0%

Abuse- verbal/physical/emotional

11.2%

Hypocrisy

20.0%

Compulsive shopping

4.7%

Pride

37.9%

Eating disorders

13.1%

Self absorption

20.0%

Other (please specify)

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As members of the body of Christ, the universal church, what is Jessica and Clara’s response?

Unfiltered.

Unfiltered is a step towards addressing  the complaints and hurts of their generation, providing a space of authenticity and “unfiltered” questions, comments, and thoughts.

Unfiltered is developing a support community in which we “bear one anothers’ burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Through informal interviews, podcasts, and social media, Unfiltered meets each person where they are, in the midst of whatever struggle they may be in, where people can share freely their stories and describe what keeps them going.  A place where they can discover they are not alone.

God hears our stories of doubt, frustration, anger, or hurt as they are, so shouldn’t we be able to listen to them… unfiltered?

Since their initial presentation in September, in which they were award $1000 to experiment with their idea, Jessica and Clara conducted surveys (in person and online), analyzed data, conducted interviews, launched a website and a Facebook page, conferred with a lawyer, met with our program mentor, and networked with several people who may share their stories or support the ministry.

Here is a look at the media that supports their Minimum Viable Offering.

The Great Commission Grant Team* at the Center for Faithful Leadership believes Jessica and Clara effectively “discovered a customer.”  The $2500 in additional funding will help them determine if this is true:  Will there social media efforts effectively and efficiently attract people?  If people are attracted to the sites, will they conclude: “I was struggling, and you encouraged me?”  Will they be referred to other people who can give them the support they need?

In another 5 or so weeks, Jessica and Clara will return to present their findings.  If they have been able to validate that they can attract and help people, they will be eligible for additional funding to attempt to reach even more people and develop an organization.

I was standing by the end of their presentation.

Gospelseed Clara and Jessica Lloyd and John

*The Great Commission Grant Team includes Rebecca Currey, Abbey Johnston, Lloyd Kaper, Andy Nakajima, Nick Reister, John Ruiter, Steve VanderVeen.

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More About The Great Commission Grant (Gospelseed):  https://blogs.hope.edu/center-for-faithful-leadership/uncategorized/the-center-great-commission-grant/

 

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