When we crafted our young adult directional goal—one of six in the mission work plan that guides the work of the Presbyterian Mission Agency—we intentionally stressed “joining” with young adults in the reformation of the church: not doing ministry on their behalf, but rather joining with them in doing Christ’s mission.
Perhaps no one exemplifies the spirit of joining with young adults more than Rob Fohr—our young adult catalyst—and the members of the agency’s Young Adult Ministries Team. Rob is especially excited to share with you not only our progress in engaging young adults but also the timely launch of a new young adult website, the theme of which will be a highlight at General Assembly next month. Read more about it in Rob’s message below.
Faithfully yours, Linda Valentine
In early March, I met with some young adults in Orlando, Florida. We had a great conversation. They spoke with me about their hopes for the church and their frustration that so many of their peers have little or nothing to do with communities of faith. One young woman said: “I know how awesome God is, but it is because I grew up in the church and had a very positive experience. Not everyone my age has had that.”
Their general thinking was that the church, and Christianity more broadly, has fared poorly in public perception these past couple of decades—partly deserved, partly not—which has led many young people to disengage. These particular young adults, however, were very engaged—and also hopeful about the future of the church—though, admittedly, their generation often connects with faith and faith communities in ways different from ours.
Since 2012, agency staff members on the Young Adult Ministries Team have engaged in similar conversations with young adults (18 to early 30s) during an open-ended “season of listening” in order to connect with them and discover how they are living out their faith or would like to do so.
After many conversations, three major themes have emerged. It seems that many young adults
1. seek out authentic intergenerational community;
2. desire opportunities for faith in action through community service and engagement; and
3. wrestle with persistent transitional questions such as “What am I going to do with my life?” and “What’s next for me?”
We wanted one place where young adults and those in ministry with them could find service opportunities, identify welcoming worshiping communities in their area, learn more about issues of interest, and explore what might be next for them in conversation with others from across the country.
After much thought and hard work, that “one place” is finally here—our new young adults website WhatsNextWhatsNow.org!
“What’s next” has become the uniting theme of all Presbyterian Mission Agency ministries related to young adults. We hope this website will serve as a hub for these ministries and continue their connectional work as we focus together on the needs of young adults and those who engage in young adult ministry.
To that end, we want to lift up churchwide opportunities going on now—hence the “what’s now”—such as the Young Adult Volunteer program, where people ages 19–30 give a year of service; and Financial Aid for Service, which assists college and seminary students with educational expenses. We also want to highlight other agency ministries many young adults are already involved in, such as the Presbyterian Hunger Program, Camp and Conference Ministries, Young Women’s Leadership Development, and UKirk (college-aged ministries). We hope to expand these connectional opportunities far beyond just the ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. We are partnering with mid councils, congregations, new worshiping communities, and other PC(USA)-related entities to learn about all the places where young adults can connect their faith to action, their creativity and curiosity to community, and their passions and interests to advocacy.
We’re spreading the word about WhatsNextWhatsNow.org far and wide. We’re even shaping the young adult display for General Assembly around the question “What’s next?” Our hope is that the website will serve as a key tool in our agency-wide effort to “join with young adults in reforming the church for Christ’s mission.”
We ask you to join us in this journey. Check out WhatsNextWhatsNow.org to get a feel for the site, and share the website with young adults, those involved in ministry with young adults, those who want to connect with young adults, and anyone else you can think of who is asking the question “What’s next for me?”
Young Adult Catalyst