A Church That Thrives

Embracing Youth
April 27, 2022

Take a look at your church. Are all the generations accounted for? Are there Baby Boomers? Millennials? Gen Z? Gen Alpha or iGen? Can’t forget Gen X, of course. And what about the Greatest Generation? When you look around at the members and visitors at your church on Saturday morning, are there groups missing? Are there groups who seem to be in conflict with each other? Are there groups who feel like they don’t belong?

One thing that Helvis C. Moody believes wholeheartedly is that when youth and young adults are engaged and involved at an early age in church, they are more likely to remain engaged with the church, more likely to have a dynamic support system that encourages their Christian journeys and, most importantly, they are more likely to develop meaningful and lifelong relationships with Jesus Christ.

Moody is the Young Adult and Youth Department Director for the Southwestern Union, and he believes strongly that the younger generations need the older generations. But he also believes that the reverse is true. “In order for our churches to thrive and share the message of love and redemption that we have been commissioned to do, we must come together in Christ,” he says.

The Young Adult and Youth Department has been working with the five conferences within the Southwestern Union to bring, Growing Together, a program to foster intergenerational ministries within local churches, to our territory. Several churches have already gone through the program, while others are currently in the beginning stages. Any church that is interested is invited to reach out to their local youth and young adult department or to Moody directly.

In addition to engaging heavily with the Growing Together program, the department provides outlets for fellowship through youth retreats, such as ski trips or cruises, and mission trips within the union territory under the program “More Compassion.” The most recent mission trip was to Southern Louisiana where youth assisted in the recovery from Hurricane Ida. The department also sponsors and participates in Public Campus Ministries, a program that provides fellowship and outreach opportunities for Adventist young adults who attend public colleges and universities.

Youth become involved with church and community service through Adventurers, Pathfinders and Master Guides. Club Ministries is an intergenerational program that gives the opportunity for thousands of people to gather together each year for camporees and camping trips for youth to learn about and marvel at God’s creation as well as to worship together. In late 2021, the Southwestern Union hosted nearly 4,000 Pathfinders and staff for an unforgettable spiritual experience at its Pathfinder Camporee at Lone Star Camp in Athens, Texas. The Southwestern Union also hosts the Pathfinder Bible Experience each year to encourage youth to get to know and to dive into the Word of God.

According to Moody, the summer camp programs in the Southwestern Union are another initiative allowing for an intergenerational mix which helps develop authentic relationships, creates mentoring relationships and allows leadership skills to blossom.

Moody considers the phrase “growing together” to be a guiding principle and rallying cry for churches that want to thrive, and he encourages all members—young and old—to get involved with youth and young adult ministries. “There’s no time to waste. What will you do to fulfill God’s commission to the world?” he asks. “The time to grow together is right now.”

By Jessica Lozano with Helvis C. Moody, Southwestern Union Young Adult and Youth Director