Jason Garver reached a crisis on a summer day at age 18, when he came to the end of his peanut-butter-and-cracker food supply in a house on the brink of foreclosure.
His hopes for a steady job had just crumbled. Nearly every company where he had applied for work had recently called to turn him down. Garver thought: Why does God hate me so much?
He texted that question to his former pastor. Except that Garver wasn't sure if there was a God. If there was, he thought, maybe he had written off the high-school dropout as a "bad kid" for using drugs and alcohol. His father had moved out of state for work, leaving Garver to survive on occasional grocery deliveries from friends.
"It was the hopelessness of not having any food, not getting a job, not seeing people," Garver said. "I wasn't in school. I didn't have friends coming to see me ever, and I couldn't go out to do anything. I was so hungry I didn't want to do anything."
After receiving the text, Garver's pastor, Corey Magstadt, asked to meet with him. Magstadt told Garver that he didn't have all the answers. But he did help Garver get back on his feet and invited him to the new Launch Ministry for young adults near Chaska, southwest of Minneapolis–St. Paul, Minnesota.
Garver, now 22, belongs to the so-called millennial generation (born from 1980 to 2000), a group numbering 80 million that surveys show is beyond the reach of many traditional churches. According to a recent Pew Forum survey, millennials are the least religiously affiliated Americans of any living generation.
Young adults who go from high school to a four-year university or military service have specialized ministries tailored to them. ...