After twenty-two years of full-time paid youth ministry, I’ve come to realize that I am no longer passionate about youth ministry. I no longer believe that the traditional way of doing youth ministry is a viable model which will instill in our youth and young adults a solid faith or a sense of belonging and community within the church.
What I am passionate about is the intergenerational faith formation of our youth and young adults, and in my church [Calvin Christian Reformed Church], I’ve been given the grace to explore that in various forms, such as:
- Inviting families to discuss with their children the possibility of participating in the Lord’s Supper and engaging them in age-appropriate discussions as they express interest.
- Beginning a monthly mentoring program for our grade 9–12s that encourages relationship building and faith formation.
- Visiting the more “mature” folk of our church in their homes to hear their faith stories and learn about their lives.
- Encouraging our young adults to get involved in the life of our church and have them interact with our youth and seniors.
One way this occurs is a twice yearly soup, buns and games time after our morning service. Watching roughly sixty youth, young adults and older members of our church laugh and have fun together is like walking on holy ground.
Recently we had a couple of our older members join a group of about twenty young adults at our bi-weekly lunch hosted after church. They took some time to share their faith stories. The reactions of our YA was palpable as you can read here.
- “One of them mentioned that she still struggles with reading her bible on a regular basis and this stuck with me because this is an area I struggle with. You think those that are older then you have it all together and then when you actually sit down and listen they too have struggles just like ourselves and though the age gap, we really aren't that different.
- “It’s interesting how you can know people [in your church] your whole life, but not really know them on a personal level. I gained insight from a different generation but also felt valued and realized that they do want to know about me.”
I am excited about the faith formation exploration we are doing in our church. In the end my hope is that all churches can be a place where a holistic sense of belonging, faith formation, and a connection to a faith community is fostered—a place where young adults will engage in church life because they know they are part of a larger faith community.
Even with a youth group—or young adult group of three—you can do amazing ministry if you begin to think outside the traditional youth ministry box. Come join in the journey and experience that holy ground for yourself.
- What is one way your church is inviting Young Adults into the life of the church?