This Spring, over 30 Adventist church members, leaders, and innovators, from across the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists [NAD], convened at Fuller Youth Institute [FYI] in Pasadena, California, to complete the Growing Young Certified Speaker training as well as participate in the Growing Young Cohort Summit. In their desire to support, cheer, and resource congregations who wish to better engage and embrace next generations, the NAD sent leaders from each of its nine unions to participate in the training. Over the next several years, these point persons will encourage and equip Adventist communities who want to grow young. [GrowingYoungAdventists.com]
“The [speaker] training has been an amazing opportunity to network with other leaders from across the NAD who are passionate about loving our young people better, it is a reminder that I am not alone in this effort,” observed Timothy Floyd, Youth and Young Adult Ministry Director for the Kansas-Nebraska Conference. “The insights gained throughout the training have inspired me to change the way I serve my youth and young adults and fueled a passion in me to constantly collaborate with my ministry peers. Growing Young has truly changed the way I approach ministry.”
The Growing Young book highly endorses the value of intergenerational relationships, but further for the Adventist trainees, the power of inter-ministry, and inter-agency collaboration became a catalytic ideal to refresh the “movement-momentum” that has been characteristic of the denomination since its very inception. Not only were youth specialists involved in the training, but also NAD ministerial, seminar professors, and young adults themselves joined in the certification process.
“I feel energized and engaged,” shared Dr. Steve Case, Andrews University Doctor of Ministry [DMin] Coordinator for the Intergenerational Church cohort.
“Drawing on the rich research that underpins the Growing Young process, the training provided by the Fuller Youth Institute has been invaluable, purposeful and motivational,” added Dr. Allan Walshe, Discipleship and Religious Education Department Chair, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. “Because of their knowledge of and deeper appreciation for Adventism, there was always a sense of them understanding and working for our context.”
With certified speakers now strategically poised in each union across the NAD [https://growingyoungadventists.wordpress.com/2018/03/09/gya-certified-speakers/], the division is ready to launch #GrowingYoungAdventists [#GYA] out to cheer, support, and resource local churches, conferences, and organizations wanting to engage, empower, and embrace next generations in meaningful, relationship-rich ways.
“Having several newly minted Growing Young Certified Speakers throughout the NAD should definitely impact the work among Millennials,” affirmed Marquis Johns, Lead Pastor for the North Philadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church. “I am excited about the opportunity to use what I’ve learned at Fuller in my ministry area.”
“The training experience was a great way for me to intentionally internalize the Growing Young commitments, not just in a way that would work for my setting, but as a way that will benefit our denomination as a whole,” observed Benji Ferguson, Youth Pastor for the Carmichael Seventh-day Adventist Church. “I’m excited about positive culture change that will make the Adventist message available to the next generations.”
In Growing Young, the authors spell out the core commitments of churches that are being revitalized by an infusion of young people. The research-based book is packed with wisdom and ideas for action. The next phase for #GrowingYoungAdventists is to have certified speakers collaborate with union, conference, and local church leadership to contextualize the findings of the book into action plans, training summits, and personal endeavors that will afford young people the rich relationships and meaningful discipleship to be found in our Adventist churches. Georgia-Cumberland Conference, Mid-America Union, North Pacific Union, Pacific Union, Southeastern California Conference, Southern Union, and Texas Conference are among the territories that already have #GrowingYoungAdventists-specific summits planned exclusively giving focus to #GYA training. Additionally, dozens of workshop and seminar presentations will be shared across the division, introducing #GYA to ministry professionals, church leaders, and local members over the next several years.
“Where was this when I started in ministry?” quipped David Yeagley, Young Adult Ministry Director for the Washington Conference. “Excellent content. . . groundbreaking research. . . awesome ministry tools.”
“Growing Young training is empowering me to be more effective in providing frameworks for transforming relationships with young and seasoned people,” observed Ken Rogers, Youth and Young Adult Ministries Director for the Southern Union. “I am inspired by the reality of transformed congregations, communities and our current culture, that the Growing Young training has provided through the research and practical application.”
The #GYA certified speakers will serve as point persons to support and encourage inclusive cultural change in local churches and Adventist entities, however the real fuel for long-lasting, intentional embracing of young people must come from caring, local members who see the need for fostering Christ-centered relationships with teens and young adults. Churches are the primary agents to contextualize and implement a #GrowingYoungAdventists plan that fits their local ministry vision and mission.
“Liberating!” endorsed Pastor Jason Bulgin of the Emerald City Community Seventh-day Adventist Church. “The training has put words and action steps to the thoughts and feelings of a generation looking to connect with others. It continues to be an effective tool in guiding our church community to engagement on all levels.”
Pastor Meshach Soli of the South Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church shared, “I truly feel that God is leading our Church, locally and at large, to shift the way we engage the next generation so that we can grow together.”
“Growing Young Certified Speaker training equipped me first with a vision, and secondly with a plan,” noted Guadalupe Montour, local young adult ministry leader for South Lancaster Village Seventh-day Adventist Church. “With a vision to see beyond the status quo. . . It’s empowered me to begin shifting the culture towards more intergenerational community, Jesus-centered worship, and others-focused service.”
For more information on #GrowingYoungAdventists go to GrowingYoungAdventists.com also like the #GYA Facebook page, facebook.com/GrowingYoungAdventists