Start a Wildfire
They're leaving the church! That’s the refrain I hear, and have shared, over and over again when the subject of youth comes up (I include the 16 to 35 age group in my use of the word "youth" in this article). We cite studies by the Barna Group and tell anecdotal stories of youth who have left the church. We blame the local church, the Adventist academy or the university, or we point to the fact that they didn't go to an Adventist school. We stand in conference office hallways and opine about the millennials and just exactly how they should be kept, reclaimed or reached. This is most certainly a problem that must be faced and corrected. But let's not just look longingly out to those who have passed through our doors and ignore those who have wholeheartedly invested themselves in their faith.
You, Adventist youth, are the lifeblood of God's last-day movement. It is "with such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained …" that "… the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!" (Education, p. 271) It is you, Adventist youth, who have non-Adventist friends. You have enthusiasm, energy and a passion for doing something that impacts your world.
The North Pacific Union has just launched a yearly event called Wildfire that will inspire, train and equip Adventist youth and new believers to share their faith. A friend of mine, Autumn Youngberg, recently shared her feelings about how youth and older church members need to interact — the youth bring ideas and energy, and more experienced members bring wisdom and efficiency. Wildfire is not a typical conference where you sit and listen to a speaker. Experienced and effective speakers will share practical ideas and inspirational messages, but we're going to keep them short and provide time for roundtable discussions and interaction with the ideas and speakers.
Wildfire speakers include Joseph Kidder, a specialist in innovative evangelism from Andrews University; Tyler Long, a young evangelism coordinator for the Washington conference; Michael Tuazon, director of the Pacific Union's young adult outreach leadership school, SOULS West; and Jason Worf, director of the North Pacific Union's outreach leadership school, SOULS Northwest.
This November 6–7 will be the first Wildfire event, but we plan on continuing this effort to engage and mobilize a generation of youth that will take this gospel to the world in this generation. Why wait? Let's start a wildfire today.
If you are an Adventist youth or a new Adventist member, register to attend Wildfire at startawildfire.org. If you know people who would benefit from a network of passionate and godly friends and a vision for changing the world, sponsor them to attend Wildfire.