Chosen Gen Backstory
This story began our first day of classes freshmen year of college. We sat next to each other in theology class (match made in heaven?) and the rest was history. We dated all throughout college and got married after our graduation. It was after getting married that God began His work in our lives to guide our steps to Chosen Gen.
Laying The GroundWork
After we were married, God moved us to do two things that changed our lives forever: read the Bible and serve at our church. He also began to navigate us through some hills and valleys in life that trained us to run to Him and trust in His promises.
Reading the Bible
As newlyweds, we decided it was important to read the Bible, so we committed to getting through the whole Bible together. It took us three whole years, but we did it! During these years, God’s Word transformed us dramatically. It brought us closer to God and to each other, refined our Christian walk, and reprioritized our values. Now, over a decade later, we continue to read through the Bible and God continues to use it to impact our lives.
Serving at Our Church
We also saw growing up that it was important to get involved at our local church, so we talked with our pastor and agreed to help lead the teen group. We spent the next eight years volunteering as youth leaders. We went into this experience hoping we could make a difference in the teens’ lives, but instead it proved to be just the opposite, the teens made a lasting impact on our lives.
During our time in youth ministry, we learned about the statistic that over 60% of young people that grow up in the Christian Church leave it by the time they are adults. While this started as just a number to us, God opened up our eyes and showed us the people behind it. As our teens grew up, we watched as one after another went off to college and quickly fell away. God broke our hearts over this exodus of young people and began burdening us to fight back for the next generation.
Outside of youth ministry, lots of life was happening. We struggled through many lows: an autoimmune disease, anxiety attacks, miscarriages, and hearing loss. We praised God for all the highs: the birth of four children, the ability to purchase a home, and the many other blessings that came with a successful job. We walked through a four year foster care case that ended joyfully with the adoption of our daughter. Through it all, God deepened our faith and brought us closer to Himself.
Starting Chosen Gen
When we reached four kids in our family, it was getting hard to continue working with our teen group. Yet, God hadn’t moved our hearts away from the youth. Instead, we began to feel Him redirecting that passion. After much prayer and discussion, we stopped serving our church and began Chosen Gen Teen Ministry. Our mission was to help other churches start youth ministries and provide them with Bible studies and other resources. We worked on this ministry after our kids were asleep, at the library during lunch breaks, and on weekends.
Two years in and God continued to guide us along. While youth ministries are wonderful and can be life-changing, we realized that the battle for the next generation had to be won at home. God had given parents the job of passing on their faith to their kids and it was parents that had the biggest impact on their children. So, we decided to begin offering parenting resources too, beginning with a podcast called Discipleship Parenting.
Three years in and we realized that we couldn’t continue creating resources for both youth groups and parents, so we prayerfully decided it was the right move to transition completely to a parenting ministry. At this point, we renamed the ministry Chosen Gen Discipleship.
Going All In
We continued to work on Chosen Gen in our free moments, but with raising (and homeschooling) five kids, these were getting less and less. With such limited time, there was only so much we could accomplish. It came to the point where we either had to stop or we needed to go full-time. With our burden for the next generation stronger than ever, we prayed that God would give us the faith to jump and show us how to make it work.
God answered our prayers and orchestrated all the timing and details. In December 2018, I let my company, which I had been with for almost 9 years, know that I would be leaving so I could do Chosen Gen. They were incredibly supportive and a last day was set for several months later. During these transition months, we got a Board of Directors together, filed as a non-profit with the state of Wisconsin, completed the 501(c)(3) application, put together a five year vision, and created a budget (just to name a few things).
In February 2019, Chosen Gen Discipleship Ministry officially became a legal non-profit. Then, on April 1, 2019, the big day arrived, Justin began to work on Chosen Gen full-time. Since that day, we have been working to encourage and equip parents to pass on their Christian faith to their children. Our prayer is that God will use Chosen Gen to ignite a new movement of discipleship in our homes and that this next generation of Jesus followers will rise up and "declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9). So, we adventure on, looking to God to guide our steps, supply our needs, and bless this work.