Young Adult Ministry Leadership

I just came home after a fun-filled week at Andrews, teaching Young Adult Ministry Leadership at the seminary; it’s one of the courses in the Campus Spiritual Leadership Certificate program. Among my many students, fellow blogger Lisa Hope.

Over the course of the week we seek to come to an understanding of the young adult stage of life, issues facing young adults today, their attitudes toward life, work, Jesus, and the church, and how we can respond. We were greatly benefited by some wonderful guest lecturers, including Steve Yeagley (from AU’s student services, talking about how university systems interconnect, and the place of campus ministry), Alvin Glassford (giving the perspective of an academy Bible teacher), Allan Walshe (speaking about spiritual formation), and Ron Whitehead (speaking about Cruise with a Mission as a model of young adult ministry). Also among the students, Prof. John Matthews, currently teaching in the school of education and the seminary, a former dean of boys at Newbold College.

We spoke of different kinds of young adult ministry, but our focus was on ministry at secular colleges and universities, and it was great having Lisa able to share her experiences at Advent House.

This capped a month of travel for me. I had been at the SEEDS church planting conference at Andrews in June, thinking about the need to plant churches where young adults live (in the cities, not the suburbs). Then I spoke at Northern New England camp meeting about young adult ministry, urging them to develop a model that not only welcomes all who visit, but involves young adults as adults the life and mission of the church, and puts an emphasis on outreach to all the places we find young adults today–the college campus, the city, the coffee shop, the military. These were themes I brought to bear also in this class.

This certificate program is an excellent opportunity for young adults and those who minister to them to get a firm grounding in this vital ministry–but we need to do a much better job of advertising it. That’s why I’m posting it here. And I want to throw out the question–how can we advertise it better? Did you know about it? Where do you get information?

Also, we need to more aggressively market young adult ministry to church leadership, including pastors and conference and union administrators. Allan has a good article in the latest Ministry, and it’s a good example of what we can do and need to do. But there is so much more.  “The harvest is ripe, but the laborers are few.”

About A Allan Martin, PhD, CFLE

Jeremiah 24/7
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One Response to Young Adult Ministry Leadership

  1. Todd says:

    Hey Bill,

    I really appreciated this post because I do feel our church needs to focus on young adults. They’re coming around, but a renewed focus is never a bad thing.

    I wanted to take a stab at answering your question about marketing. We’ve had a similar discussion with Allan about GODencounters and we’ve also kicked this issue around Deeper (Blog post: http://deeperfaith.blogspot.com/2008/06/back-to-basics.html), and it’s always an interesting topic!

    What we’ve mostly come to agree on is that often times marketing is the problem with ministry. We do great an ministering to a specific needs, and when something works well we often get so wrapped up in sharing that and marketing it for use elsewhere that the need we were striving to meet gets lost. And this isn’t just a Young Adult problem, but it’s something our church seems to struggle with as a whole.

    I think that the best way to “market” is to just do what needs to be done in your community. Basically, it’s taking a cue from the Apostles. You don’t do anything else besides introduce people to your friend Jesus, and they will flock to you. There is very little special training or preparation needed there. We’re called to plant the seeds, but the Spirit does growing. It a “P.C. marketing” term, it’s grassroots and simple.

    That’s basically what we’ve kicked around and the conclusion we’ve reached. It’s not as easy as it should be since that’s both the way it’s been done for the past couple of decades and, now more than ever, we live in a mass market society. But if we just introduce people to Jesus, one person at a time, it will set off a powder keg!

    My two cents.

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