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