Throughout North America, Adventist young adults are seeking active ways to engage with the church mission. While some may look askance at new methods and ministries, the fact is, status quo has little attraction for the 20- and 30-somethings. They are anxious to serve, tired of waiting for the wheels of progress to include them, and eager to jump into action. The following articles highlight Adventist young adults collaborating in both vision and service.
The first highlights a personal account of the recent IGNITION summit in Dallas, Texas. The event involved young adults and youth leaders from across the country, including Matthew Gamble, pastor of the 24-Seven Church in Seattle, Washington and True!mprov, improvisational ministry troupe from the Oasis Church in Vancouver, Washington. The second is an overview of the recent Cruise With a Mission—an event combining recreation and service. It, too, involves young adults from the Northwest. If you've been tempted to think Adventist young adults don't care about mission and ministry, read the following pages, and think again.
oung adults from around North America gathered in Dallas, Texas, during February for a special gathering—IGNITION. With keynote messages from George Barna, well-known Christian pollster, Matthew Gamble, Seattle-area pastor, and others—expectations ran high. For many, it created an environment where ministry connections could be made and ministry ideas conceived.
IGNITION is just one facet of the North American Division Youth/Young Adult Ministries Leadership Summit held every two years. For the first time at this summit, a comprehensive young adult ministry offering best practices, dynamic worship, and experiential learning became part of the mix. Nearly 1,800 people were in attendance at the summit for everything from campus ministries, Pathfinders and Adventurers to youth and young adult ministries. And of those registered for seminars, 25 percent came intentionally for IGNITION.
Raewyn Hankins, a young adult delegate from California, provides this firsthand report:
"I went, not sure what to expect, but definitely wanting to be part of something, hoping to see spiritual sparks, eager for more than just talk.
"Cyberspace alerted me to IGNITION, inviting young adults and those passionate to minister to gather for worship, discipling and networking. I get excited hearing speakers like George Barna and connecting with other young adults and close friends from across the country, and decided I had to be there.
"At the first IGNITION breakout session, a group of smiling strangers literally rushed past me as I walked in the door, pulling me in to form a group of 12. The room was a blur of young adults moving, mixing, and mingling. As we settled into scattered circles on the hotel ballroom floor—praying, sharing, learning—I looked around and saw many peers whose ministry paths had crossed with mine in various parts of the world. It struck me I was witnessing part of a growing movement of young adults seeking to be part of a community of disciples, determined to turn the world upside down for the sake of the gospel. And I certainly wasn't the only one.
"‘The earnest praying, vulnerable sharing, and missional focus of IGNITION reflects what I imagine was the upper room of Acts 2,’ shares Jose Bourget, a young pastor from Chicago, Illinois. ‘It seems this generation of young adults is actively anticipating a Pentecost of catastrophic proportions. Through IGNITION I was inspired, equipped, and sent out to disciple others for the sake of His kingdom.’
"Equipping came in many forms including seminars on significant young adult issues. Matthew Gamble and Adrienne Townsend gave presentations on young adult sexuality, including the topics of identity and pornography. Surging young adult ministries, like Deeper in Central Florida and Oasis in the Chicago area, offered best practice case studies which are galvanizing this movement locally and gave us the chance to learn from peers.
"‘The IGNITION seminars ministered to me in a profound way,’ shares Steven Gusse, young adult leader. ‘It was a great opportunity to share ideas and experiences with people with the same passion. There is a great need for young adult ministry, and I'm excited we are beginning to address the void.’
"Although I was inspired by the exceptional seminars, what really struck me were the opportunities to enter into an experience with GOD. Beyond ministry training and social networking, I was invited to just stop and rest in God's presence.
"I experienced this rest at Encounters Café, where we met around tables in a relaxed, candlelit atmosphere to have quiet life conversations with friends; joined in singing praises; or simply being with God and others. True!mprov brought us laughter and even tears as one member shared how God brought him back home.
"‘I've attended many conferences which offered hope, energy, enlightenment, encouragement, and authentic worship, but never at an Adventist event—until now,’ shares a young physician. ‘Mad props to all of those who sacrificed as leaders, speakers, or presenters for IGNITION. I've been close to leaving this denomination at times, but being a part of this past weekend has given me hope. Praise God.’
"I've attended ministry conventions where I felt pushed into a frantic pace to get to seminars, pick up resources, run to this program, rush to this training... IGNITION was distinctly different. It gave me permission to ‘let my hair down' and enjoy lingering in God's presence, to freely worship Him, to feel like I was part of a community, and a grassroots movement. Friendships were affirmed, with God and each other. We were being fueled by worship, ignited to disciple, sparking a movement within our generation and our church.
"Events like IGNITION are inspiring, but what happens next? I came away with the sense that this event initiated a larger, more local process. IGNITION conversations continue in cyberspace via our blog http://ignitionblog.wordpress.com/ and our Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=10455696581, fostering steps both in encountering God and discipling others.
"I went to IGNITION and found young adults on the move. In fellowship with peers passionate about Christ, I felt moved to deepen my devotion to Jesus. I found a young adult movement. As sparks fly, igniting a young adult revolution across the nations, may the movement gain momentum, finding more and more of us wholeheartedly pursuing a 24-7 experience with the living God."
Raewyn Hankins' experience has undoubtedly been echoed by others who attended the summit. Archie Harris, Montana Conference youth director, was enthusiastic. "It was awesome to be around so many people with the same goal—reaching young people for Christ," he says. "The seminars were great, but I learned a great deal from just sharing ideas with others who were there."
If these comments and experiences are indicators, young adults in Dallas may have not only found a spark, but ignited a fire to help light the way until Jesus comes.