They say that confession is good for the soul. So here goes. Youth and Young Adult Ministry pre-Covid was not perfect. Yes, things were okay, but maybe not the best they could be. The pandemic has presented us with a unique opportunity to hit the reset button and figure out what needs to be done. While change is daunting, it needs to be embraced, especially as we minister to and with our youth and young adults.
Currently, youth and young adults are defined by the Pew Research Center as anyone born in the year 1997 or after and are known as Generation Z. Gen Z has experienced catastrophic change as the COVID-19 pandemic heightened the uncertainty that already comes in adolescence and transitional life stages. These young people have shifted to virtual learning and now back to in person learning masked and unmasked, moved home from college and now back to socially distanced yet in person college, lost jobs, struggled to find employment and experienced isolation and lack of connection like most of society.
Although most Gen Z’s can hardly remember a world without smartphones, many are hungry for connection and constancy in a society that is struggling, facing unknowns around every corner. While change is daunting, we must embrace this opportunity to impact Gen Z, as this generation has the potential to radically move and change the world in the name of Jesus. It’s time to hit the reset button and focus on the four R’s of Youth and Young Adult Ministries – real, relational, reliant, and reproducible.
Members of Gen Z have no patience for inauthenticity. They want honesty and a safe place where they can be heard and accepted.
Youth and Young Adults are not looking for information but rather connection
· be interactive in person or virtually
· create an environment for healthy conversations
· use an attentive listening model
· it’s in the pauses that love can be cultivated, and authenticity established
Attentive listening is not a natural skill set. For most, we feel like we listen when we choose to stop talking or when there is an absence of talking. However, attentive listening cares more about youth and young adults being heard, not just hearing. From my experience, I’ve learned Gen Z’s do not hesitate in asking questions and creating a culture of listening that welcomes crucial conversations. Doubts or concerns can work as catalysts of faith, so make sure to engage in a loving way where trust is built, and all parties can be real and feel heard.
After more than a year of social distancing and isolation, it’s safe to say we are all in need of connection. Gen Z also wants to know that we care. A successful youth and young adult ministry needs to be evaluated on relational metrics, not just success metrics.
· Create ties with youth and young adults at a heart level
o where they are engaged
o where they come alive
· Work to develop lasting friendships and cultivate relationships
· Walk beside youth and young adults in their journey of faith
· Expand outside of youth and young adult programs
o Gen Z is searching for a place to belong and wanting relationships that go deep in the church body.
Stop segregating youth and young adult ministry. To achieve a thriving youth and young adult ministry, we must stop segregating it. We must intertwine the ministries while maintaining the unique space that youth and young adult ministries offer. Integrating youth and young adults with the entire congregation is important in fostering a connected church body.
In a world that is ever-changing, Gen Z needs to taste and see the Lord’s constancy and consistency for themselves. Like James 1:17 says, God “does not change like shifting shadows.” A thriving youth and young adult ministry, in any age or context, isn’t about the leaders or the youth ministry itself, but rather is all about Jesus.
· Remain centered on Jesus through all things
· Invite youth and young adults to look to and listen to Jesus
· Frequently remind youth and young adults that
o they are loved and cherished by God
o they are created in God’s image
o God wants a close experiential relationship with them
However, talking about and explaining God is not enough — Gen Z’s must experience God’s love, power, peace, and closeness for themselves. Leave room for hard and uncomfortable conversations to facilitate an opportunity for Gen Z to be in the presence of God and understand the power of connecting with the Holy Spirit.
To start invite youth and young adults to:
· Ask the Holy Spirit to come
· Then wait and listen
Once centered invite them to focus on what makes them come alive. As Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Once focused on what makes them come alive ask
· Where are you moving Lord?
· How may I take what makes me come alive and connect with where you, my Lord are moving?
The Holy Spirit is always with us but consistently handing over the mic creates a space where we wait on God together.
Members of Gen Z want to be in the action, they want to move and be a part of the change. They are hungry for purpose and a sense of belonging that can be translated into a meaningful life.
· Empower youth and young adults to live their purpose
o for God’s Kingdom in their own lives
o for communities
o and for the world
Again, it is about making space for the relational aspect to grow and trust to build. Even though they are young, and it can seem risky to hand over the reins, let youth and young adults lead.
· Give up your authority to reproduce leaders who find a firm footing in their faith and spread the good news of Jesus with the world.
· Walk through discipleship with them and equip Gen Z to live their faith sharing it with to all they meet.
It is time to reset. Gen Z is starving for it. They are longing to experience an awakening of their true nature and purpose. They are poised to be a great outpouring of God’s love, favor, and kindness. They are looking for something real and authentic. I believe following Christ is where they will find it. Generation Z has the potential to revitalize Christianity in our communities. Reset and revitalize, something good is coming.
Thank you to Cynthia Rader Geyer, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, for providing this article.
Seeking Executive Assistant to the NP PEC President
Sr. Gloria Reisinger, Executive Assistant to the PEC president, is retiring at the end of this year after 26.5 years of faithful service to the province.
We have formed a search committee to find a qualified individual to fill this position. Please help us get the word out about this opportunity to serve the church in this key role in the province. If you feel called to apply, or if you know someone who might be interested, please share the link to the job description posted on the MCNP Portal.
Applications will remain open until the position is filled; those applying by October 11 will receive full consideration.
If you have any questions, please contact Jacquie Petko, our Director of HR and Benefits ([email protected]). Thank you!
The Board of World Mission continues to invite your prayers for all who are suffering from hunger, natural disasters, war, and injustice. Moravian Disaster Response is currently working with our partners on three major areas of concern:
Haiti Earthquake Relief: On August 14th, a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit southwestern Haiti, causing major damage to two Moravian congregations. Thanks to the support we have received so far, the BWM has sent $17,500 to Haiti. Moravians in the capital city have already sent support teams to the affected areas.
Hurricane Ida: This was a major category 4 hurricane when it made landfall in Louisiana, then continued up from the gulf shore into the northeastern U.S. At this time, we are sending funds to help with emergency outreach and will look toward long-term rebuilding efforts when we can send teams in safely.
Afghanistan Refugee Resettlement: With the withdrawal of military personnel and foreign citizens now complete, many Afghans are seeking to find refuge in the U.S. and Canada. As Christians, we share in a calling to welcome those who are seeking safe shelter. The BWM is partnering with Church World Service to support this urgent need.
Updates on MDR efforts can be found on our website (MoravianMission.org) as well as on Facebook (Board of World Mission) and Instagram (@boardofworldmission).
You can assist the BWM in all of our relief efforts by sending your donations to: Board of World Mission, 1021 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018. You may also make your donation online at MoravianMission.org/Give. Please indicate that your gift is for “MDR.”
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Kay Ward will join us for our Steward Sparks session on October 26; Bishop Ward is a writer, former director of continuing education at Moravian Theological Seminary, and retired pastor. She has selected Ezekiel 47:1-12 for our discussion.
Click link to get to know Kay a little before we meet in October and to register.
Sr. Jesmina Meade, an approved candidate for ministry in the Moravian Church and a student at Moravian Theological Seminary, has accepted an appointment to serve part-time as pastor of the MorningStar Moravian Church in Coopersburg, PA. Sr. Jesmina and her husband and their two children moved from Maryland to the parsonage at MorningStar. She began her ministry on September 1, and was installed as pastor on Sunday, September 5.
Please keep Sr. Jesmina, her family, and the MorningStar congregation in your prayers during this time of transition.
Material for Confirmation Class
As you make plans for Confirmation Classes, remember that there is a supplement you may use titled “Take the Ancestors with You.” Content of this material covers Hus to Herrnhut, Moravian women, Missions, Customs and Practices — and includes a PowerPoint presentation. To receive the link for the free download of this material, please contact:
Marie Couts- [email protected]