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Young Adult Ministry

Formation + Nurture + Leadership = Mission

When we talk about Young Adult Ministry two areas of concern come to my mind.  First, the congregation’s acceptance of Young Adults as a vital part of the church by including them in the overall ministry plan of the church.  Secondly, how do we provide ministry to Young Adults that is relevant and meets their specific needs. 

Here are some critical definitions as we seek to understand Young Adult Ministry in the church.  Christian education is the business of guiding people toward Christian formation in the likeness of the One we follow as disciples; helping people find their way to loving God with all their heart, mind, body, and strength and loving their neighbors as they love themselves.  This definition is given to make it clear that Young Adult ministry is not some separate function of the church but is a segment of the overall Christian Education ministry of the church.
This in essence is where we must begin.  Anytime something is going on that is called Christian Education we have to make sure Young Adults understand it involves them also.  If your Board of Christian Education (BOCE) does not have the president of the Young Adult Fellowship at meetings the BOCE is not functioning correctly. 

Another important definition:  Intentionality involves planning with deliberation and with focus on goals based on a specific mission.  An example of this is the mission of the Department of Christian Education is “Making Disciples through events that form and transform.”  Our goal at the CYYAC 2008 was to provide Young Adults an opportunity to identify areas that needed addressing.  We intentionally provided the space and place along with the resources so that this could be accomplished. 

Each local church has to work out its vision for Christian Education.  In our new resource “How to Do A New Thing in Christian Education” we emphasize the need for a mission.  It is not about  having  programs to raise money.  This is not about Christian education.  Having pancake breakfasts and fashion shows is no substitute for Christian Education.  We cannot equate being busy with ministry.

Where are Young Adults involved in your local church?  Are they stewards, stewardesses, trustees, choir members, teachers, treasurers, secretaries or ushers?  Young Adults must be a part of every facet of the church.  This requires the intentionality.   Yes the pastor recommends or appoints who serves in the church.  This is true.  But who confirms? 

When it comes to the budget of the church what is the Director of Christian Education doing to fight for all aspects of Christian Education?  What is included in your church budget for Young Adult ministry?  Are there provisions to purchase resources?  Is there any effort to provide special workshops that pertain to young adults? 

We must seriously consider how we provide for young adults in the church.  Are we considerate of their needs?  Most young adults want to attend church where they can give full attention to the worship service. 

If someone walked up to you and asked, “What is the purpose of your church,” what would be your response?  The answer to that question may tell everything one needs to know about your church.  What does your bulletin say about your church?  Does the bulletin provide information about what is happening at the church during the week?  Are the scripture references and sermon title printed on the bulletin?  Is there liturgy?  Does worship involve young adults?  Is it intentional in speaking to young adult life?   Much can be observed and discerned about the mission and ministry of the church by looking and listening.  This is what young adults are attentive to. 

Walter Brueggemann provides a jarring assessment of where we are in the church.  He states,  "I think much of the church has lost its way. We worry about rules, and morality, worry about members and dollars, worry about culture wars and church splits, worry about imposing our way on others in order to get everyone in the right on morality or doctrine or piety or liturgy…all as though we have not received mercy."  It seems we have lost our focus on discipleship and the great commission.
One of the reasons we produced the new resource, “Doing a New Thing in Christian Education,” stems from our perspective of Young Adult Ministry in the church.

We live in a new time and place.  “Building on our history, new times require new response.”   (Laura McKinney in Christian Education in the African American Church).  The message remains the same, but the method changes.  Yes, Jesus the same today, yesterday and forevermore.  But the church is not that way.  It changes.  We worked on this resource to push us to become more relevant vital and significant in contributing to the ministry of the church.  Additionally, we want to provide the tools necessary to bring about effective Christian education through the use of formation, nurture, leadership and mission. 

This is what we say about Young Adults in this resource.  Young adult members in local churches can be the most vital, motivated and creative contributors to the spiritual growth of the church if they are given opportunities to identify and exercise their spiritual gifts.  In churches where young adults are active in discipleship and evangelism at the local church level, evidence supports church growth and ministry that impacts the lives of persons not only in the faith community but in the larger community as well.

The role of the young adult in the local church should not be limited to serving on the Young Adult Council or participating in the Young Adult Ministry of the Church. Young adults must be given opportunities to serve in the area of Christian education as well as other leadership roles in the church.  Age should not be a means for disqualification when a young adult exhibits spiritual maturity and the necessary gifts for serving in these areas.  Young adults can be utilized in the Sunday Church School, midweek Bible Study, youth leaders and mentors, Children’s leaders as well as facilitators for small group sessions with adults as well.

As CME’s it is possible that we are open to young adults doing all of the above, but we have trouble getting them to come to church and to be involved. 

We lift up a new method so that the old message can be given.  What is the Message – Matthew 28:19-20?  Changing circumstances and God’s call require us to develop a new framework for Christian teaching and learning.  Cultural, demographic, and technological changes make much of our approaches outdated.  Our methods of communication have changed.  Email, text messages, Face book, IM’s, etc. make our old method of announcements in the church ineffective when it comes to young adults.  Social networks through technology now make it possible to have Bible study in creative ways. 

Some practices that we need to consider in our Christian education ministry.

Creation of a Young Adult Sunday school class is one of the proven ways to make the Sunday school grow.  This class may be designed around a separate curriculum that relates to young adult issues and concerns.  It could very well be a Disciple Covenant group referred to in our 21st Century Discipleship series. 

Sponsorship of a Parent’s day/night out where parents of children of the church and possibly other parents could be allowed to leave their children at the church with a group of responsible adults.  Maybe it could be a planned movie night, dinner night, shopping night or just a getaway for several hours a month.  This not builds and sustains relationships, but let’s make sure young adults know the church is concerned about their well being. 

Couples and singles retreats can be planned in a way to provide nurture and relaxation.  Young adults need to be engaged in study and reflection upon the scriptures.  Otherwise, they will lose focus on the purpose of the church.  They need to be reminded of responsibility and service.  Most of all young adults need to be disciples and involved in disciple making. 

Another area for young adult ministry is mentoring.  Young adults have the ability and capacity to organize  on their own to become mentors to teens in the church.  Many  mentor/mentee relationships  instituted by young adults have turned into strong friendships as time has gone by. 

Even teens who have supportive families find a mentoring relationship with an older person beneficial.  This is an intentional ministry designed to just provide friendship and love.  This is a part of is described as nurturing in “How to Do A New Thing in Christian Education.”

The Connectional Young Adult Ministry is an active and relevant ministry of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.  They are doing great things and sharing their gifts in unique ways through the Connectional Church. 

Check out their web page and talk to communicate with Young Adult office through the various social networks.