Millennial Matrix Project Kicks Off at Sunnyside
“If any of you has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, what will you do? Won't you leave the ninety-nine in the field and go look for the lost sheep until you find it?” (Luke 15:4 CEV).
Well, consider this: first, 60 percent or more of Seventh-day Adventist youth and young adults will grow up and leave the church; and, second, the dropout problem is a faith-development (disciple-making) problem according to research outlined in You Lost Me by David Kinnaman, the book that fuels a new project to reach the millennial generation. Are you concerned? What will you do?
The Sunnyside Church in Portland, Ore., held its Sabbath kickoff for the 99One Project on Feb. 21. This is part of Millennial Matrix, a collaborative effort through which six Oregon Conference churches in the Portland and Vancouver, Wash., area share ideas and resources aimed at creating a church community where people of all ages are loved equally and feel at home — all the while drawing ever closer to Jesus.
Several steps helped prepare for the kickoff. An 11-member team was formed to guide the project, consisting of members in the millennial generation and others. Copies of the book You Lost Me were given to all church members who wanted one (and promised to read it). The team spent several days in California attending lectures and workshops to thoroughly educate themselves and build team rapport.
The kickoff was a full day of activities that began with a potluck continental breakfast. Next, a Sabbath School panel of team members responded to questions from Jonathan Russell, Sunnyside Church associate pastor. During the church service, Russell presented sermon goals to inspire the community to emulate the attitudes of the Shepherd and the Father from Luke 15 and to embrace and connect with millennials and others who have lost contact with the church community.
Church was followed by a haystack lunch and an afternoon of two presentations and a question-and-answer period. In the afternoon, team member Jeremy Barber gave attendees a look at today’s chaotic social media environment, where millennials live. It was an eye-opening talk for many. Afternoon child care was arranged by 14-year-old team member Adoniah Simon.
Sunnyside Church is embarking on a discussion on the future of its mission as a church family. Many times over the years, members have spoken of foreign missions and home missions. But this will be a church family mission. This Sabbath was designed to be a family fireside chat and a time to ask questions, hear from others and share thoughts about where members want to see Sunnyside go in the years to come.