Young Adult Ministries is very intriguing to say the least. I enjoy studying church growth, but when we look at the trends and the research produced by the Barna Group as well as others, we notice that many young people from the ages of 18 to 35 leave the church. While this is happening in various denominations across North America, we are striving to make a difference with youth and young adults in the Southwestern Union.
Let me share a few things that have worked for me in my ministry, first as a pastor and now as the young adult and youth director for the Southwestern Union. Overwhelmingly, young adults want to feel accepted. While pastoring the Fondren Adventist Church in Houston, Texas, I learned that we have to create a safe environment for young adults. We have to create a social environment where they can feel comfortable, be themselves and study the Word of God together.
In addition to the Young Adult Sabbath School class, the young adults created their own Friday night worship experience—getting together in each other’s homes to have Bible studies and fellowship. Being in smaller groups allowed them to express themselves creatively and develop ownership of the ministry. The ministry, Y.A.M. or “Young Adult Ministry,” had the support and encouragement of our church leadership.
Since our young adults ranged in age, we made sure to build mentorship opportunities between the older and younger young adults. We kept it dynamic so the younger young adult mentees eventually became mentors themselves. This helped them give back to their church and their community.
People differ in preferences from appearance to needs and even worship styles. But we tried to include the youth and young adults regularly in the worship experience so that they could have ownership. This was not just their parents’ or grandparents’ church, but this was their church. It's encouraging to see young adults actively involved in the church. Be it leading worship, sharing the Word, managing a ministry or working with tech behind the scenes, young adults have tremendous gifts and talents that we must recognize. We should be strategic in making sure that we put young people in areas where they enjoy working for the Lord.
I believe that if we empower our young adults and include them in decision making as well as the worship experience, we will have a thriving church with less negativity that produces positive growth. The goal is pouring into young people and growing the Kingdom of God.
By Helvis C. Moody, Southwestern Union Young Adult and Youth Director