Growing Young Intentionally
Several years ago, I joined Adventist youth and young adult leaders from across the North American Division at the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) for a Growing Young speaker training and certification. FYI specializes in researching, training and developing resources for reaching today’s young people. Their book, Growing Young, has now grown into a ministry that focuses on the inclusion of all generations into meaningful church ministry and shared leadership.
The book expands on six essential strategies from churches who successfully help young people discover, love and engage with their church. They are listed below.
Unlocking keychain leadership involves sharing leadership responsibilities with those who have a potential to be leaders. Mentoring a younger person is significant. Empathizing with today’s young people is what I believe is the key to this ministry. Each member should make an intentional effort to relate to the issues that Millennials and Generation Z wrestle with, as they are very different from the struggles of Baby Boomers. Taking Jesus’ message seriously. Young people today do not just want to hear the Word, they want to apply its message. When a church taps into this viewpoint, a previously passive church can turn into an active congregation that engages in a slew of ministries like food pantries or mission trips that personify the Gospel as modeled by Jesus. Fueling a warm community. Research has found that youth who come back to church do so because the church exhibits a sense of warmth and a familial environment. Prioritizing young people (and families) everywhere. A church that limits its youth involvement to a youth group or ministry won’t be a place that young people or young adults will remain for long. The church needs to give young people the opportunity to find relevance in the shared mission through their participation in all of its functions. Being the best neighbors. Showing mercy to those outside of the church walls can have a lasting effect and be a blessing to all involved.
Growing Young centers around intergenerational inclusion. It involves building intergenerational connections, fostering an inclusive community and learning from one another. This may mean moving away from age-specific ministries and leaning more towards ministering collectively. It will require a holistic reorientation that needs support from leadership and the members. Attempting to implement these strategies may bring up challenges, but the key is cooperation, intention and persistence.
By Michael Razon, Youth Director