Waiting for the Harvest: Investing in Adventist Young People

Have you ever gone driving in the country during the spring?  If you have, it’s likely you have seen a farmer working out in his fields. You may have seen him plowing the soil, preparing it for the growing season. You may have seen him planting seeds or carefully supplying water to his fledgling crops. All of this is hard work means long hours for the farmer, but he works hard in the spring so that he can enjoy a bountiful harvest later.

Over the past several months, our blogs have looked at the beliefs and lifestyle views of youth within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We have looked at youth’s perception of their place in the Church, their desire to change the Church, and the things that they consider important. We have also gotten a feel for their beliefs on topics such as the Great Controversy, Jesus’ gift of Salvation, and the Sabbath.

Throughout this series, one central theme has surfaced time and time again: if the youth of today will create the church of tomorrow, how can we ensure that they are being trained and grown into mature Christians? How can we invest in them now – while they are young – to help create a brighter tomorrow for the Church as a whole?

As you consider this theme, you may want to ask yourself these questions:

• Does my church create an environment that provides a safe place for the youth to be themselves?

• Do my young people feel comfortable discussing spiritual things, not just in church but outside of church as well?  If not, is it because they have not been equipped with the knowledge to talk about spiritual topics?

• Is my church seeking only to preach at our young people, or do the youth feel as though they are developing meaningful relationships at church where they can just be themselves?

In a 2014 study conducted by the Institute for Church Ministry, Adventist young people were asked how often they spend time “hanging out” with their friends. Forty-four percent indicated that they hang out with their friends at least every week (13% of those indicated that they “hang out” everyday), 49% indicated occasionally, and only 4% indicated that they never “hang out” with friends. This finding makes it clear that young people value their friends and social interactions. With this in mind, here are some creative ideas that may help you foster a more youth-friendly environment:

• Once a month, host a “youth hangout night.” Invite your youth to meet at the church or, better yet, in the home of one of your leaders.  Share a meal together and spend time getting to know your youth. 

• After youth group meets during the week, go out for frozen yogurt or pie at a local diner. Use this “hang out” time to watch your young people interact, learn more about what they value in life, and share a bit of your own life with them. 

• Plan a youth social event on a Saturday night after Sabbath; take the youth bowling or swimming at a local pool. Encourage your young people to invite friends from outside of the group or even outside of the church.

• Go on a youth retreat weekend. Get away from all of the stresses of everyday life, the bombardment of media, and the constant distraction of technology. Use the weekend to share Jesus more deeply with your young people, inviting them to draw closer to Him, as well as to each other.

Keeping our youth engaged and excited about the Church may sound like a lot of work – and you know what? It might be! But just as a farmer isn’t afraid to put in a lot of work early on so that he can enjoy the fruits of his labor later, so we must not neglect the work set before us. After all, a bountiful harvest and a strong church are well worth the effort

Image from Canva©.

Author: ICM

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