On November 16-17 a group of individuals and teams from local churches around the Mid-America Union gathered in Kansas City to learn practical skills for improving intergenerational ministry in their local churches.
The Growing Young Adventists initiative began in 2016 across the North American Division as a learning journey for local churches and leaders helping to build faith communities that will not only survive, but thrive, in the years ahead. GYA is an inter-generational movement nurturing relationship building and cultural transformation that embraces young people and benefits all generations in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Growing Young isn’t about changing youth ministry. It’s about changing church culture.
The overall message from the weekend was that if churches put Jesus first and at the center of all they say and do, the natural result is empathy for all members. That empathy cultivates a warm community, which then places young people at a higher priority. When young people are a priority, the church invests in giving them leadership opportunities. All of this expands the church’s influence and makes members better neighbors to the community around them and to the world.
“What I really need is for my church to stop assuming they know what I need and actually talk to me. I’d feel a lot better about my local church if the leaders included me and my generation in the conversation about us and what we need. I can’t think of the last time my pastor even talked to me, let alone asked me what I was going through.” – High School student attendee
The format for the weekend was a series of interactive presentations on each of the six core characteristics of Growing Young, followed by small group discussion time, and then action planning time. Individuals and teams who attended were equipped with resources to continue learning and planning with their leaders back home, in the hopes of changing their local church culture to be more conducive to reaching and retaining all of their members and becoming more active in their local communities.
“I am excited to hear people talking about realistic solutions to our challenges. For far too long we’ve pushed these issues under the rug or found quick fixes that never really solved anything, but made us feel better about ourselves. I could see Growing Young Adventists actually making a difference.” – MAUC pastor
This was the first of two Growing Young Adventists Summits to be held in the MAUC. The second will be in the Spring of 2019 in Minnesota. For more information about the Growing Young Adventists initiative, please visit growingyoungadventists.com and periodically check growingmauc.com for more information about the second Growing Young Adventists Summit as we continue to cultivate vibrant church communities for all members.
Photos: Tim Floyd
Tim Floyd serves as Youth and Young Adult Ministries director for the Kansas-Nebraska Conference.