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Creative ideas for young adult ministry generated at ROCK

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By Mike Beiber

Creative ideas for young adult ministry generated at ROCK

When nearly 4,000 people gathered at the ROCK youth retreat last month, the BWC’s Young Adult Council was there. We were the ones with the buttons that said “Jesus was a Young Adult.”

We were present to reach out to the many young adults-to-be that gather every year at ROCK. We were also asking for people's ideas for young adult ministry. After sorting through all the slips of paper we collected, we've categorized all the ideas we received into the following categories.

Young Adult Retreats and/or Conferences
There seemed to be a deep desire for events where young adults could gather to worship and grow in their faith, much in the same vein as ROCK itself. An event like this called Encounter was held for a few years but was discontinued due to lack of interest. However, the number of requests for weekend long, or even week-long retreats, reveals to us the need to revisit the idea.

Fellowship Activities
A number of people mentioned fellowship activities that their local churches had put together to give young adults a chance to gather in community. Ideas included comedy cafes, painting classes and others. As with most fellowship activities, these all had food in common. What was interesting and worth noting was how these fellowship gatherings were also centered around the arts.

Calling Christians of any age to come together to serve their neighbors is far from a “new idea.” However, activities that involved service were widely mentioned. Service seems to successfully engage young adults. Most of the ideas shared were ministries already underway that were not designed solely for young adults. People are serving and they’re now asking young adults to come along,

Support Groups
We gathered a number of ideas for ministry that involved young adults coming together in community to support one another through various struggles. These included homelessness, poverty, post-traumatic stress (how many veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are young adults?), anxiety, depression, addiction and many others. Some suggested these groups take the format of spiritual formation groups, others a large group discussion or even a TED-talk. There is a large portion of the young adult population that struggle with real issues and need the love of Jesus embodied in community.

New Worship Experiences
As we read through these responses, we saw a clear thirst for new vibrant worship experiences. We need to celebrate the fact that we have young adults that want to worship. May we the church hear this call and respond by engaging in new worship practices, engaging our young adults and even calling them to participate and lead.

Campus Ministry Outreach
We had more than a few seniors come to our table expressing anxieties over what life will be like as they transition to college. We cannot simply abandon our young people as they go off to college. We need to remain in connection with them through letters, calls and support packages. We need to help them connect to local churches near their campus, or to ministries on their campus. The key word here is “connection,” and isn't that what we United Methodists are all about?

The Conference Young Adult Council will be creating ministries that address these needs. But as you read through people’s ideas, we hope they spark an interest in you that leads to ministry. Cheryl Cook, the Conference staff person for young adult ministries, is excited about partnering with you and your church. Contact her at .