Young adults seek ways to put faith into action, leader says


By Linda Green
United Methodist News Service

NASHVILLE — Young adults today want to be involved in mission and service, and they represent “a passionate movement” in the church, a United Methodist executive says.

Young adults are living out their faith every day by being active participants in their own life stories, said Bill Lizor, director of Young Adult and Single Adult Ministries at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

“This isn’t a generation of people wanting to sit in the pews and consume worship,” he said. “Today’s young adults want to be out in the fields, active in mission and service, taking the faith they were handed down as children and adding their own hands and feet.”

The Board of Discipleship brought nearly 80 United Methodist young adult leaders together in November for a weekend of sharing about their ministries. The Nov. 15-17 gathering was the second Young Adult Leaders Summit.

With the growth in popularity of young adult ministries in The United Methodist Church, numerous annual conferences are developing ministries to young adults, which the denomination defines as people between 18 and 30. Leadership summits provide a place for annual conference teams to engage in training and dialogue around such topics as theology, practice, ministry models, discipleship and leadership. 

The Rev. Vance Ross, a discipleship staff executive, challenged the young leaders to take the initiative and to make a difference today. “Now is the time for young adults to take action.”

Several ministries from across the denomination were invited to share about what they are doing for young adult ministry. The ministries included:

• Emerge Detroit, a citywide network of churches and ministries engaged in young adult ministry.

• North Georgia Annual Conference, which is developing a model for young adult leader training, as well as marketing, podcasts and Web sites designed to include young adults in the annual conference process.

• The Bishop’s Initiative of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference, which placed four young adults in an intentional community and service setting for a year. The program is being re-evaluated and seeking further funding so it can continue.

• The Division on Ministries with Young People, which introduced the new Young Adult Network, a Web-based portal for young adults.

• The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women, which shared what it is doing in the area of developing young adult women.

To get an overview of current research, the group viewed the video, Generation Next: Speak Up, Be Heard, a research project developed by PBS and Films for the Humanities and Sciences. The film provided the young adult leaders with information about recent research.

Elaine de Leon said she was glad the video talked about “the economic debt because that’s a reality that is ‘under-talked’ about.”

De Leon, of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference and seminary student at Wesley Seminary in Washington, said she senses “that people believe that young adults leave the church to pursue careers – because that’s so much more important to them - and to climb the corporate ladder. Some of the reality is that you have to have the job to pay off your college loans,” she said.