Many of you have written asking how to start young adult ministry at your congregation. This month we will hear from someone who did just that. Matt Staneck shares how he was a part of reaching young adults in his community. I pray his experience will encourage you!
“I remember one day being back home from college at my home congregation’s youth night. Although it was nice to be back something was not quite right. After talking to a few others we identified the problem was that we were no longer in high school. We brought this up to our youth director. He suggested that we start meeting as our own ministry—a college aged ministry—on those breaks when we were home. So it began.
It started out simple enough. We met as a group of less than ten in our youth director’s office. Our youth director put videos or audio up on his computer screen of a talk from a Christian speaker. We frequently heard from Christian speakers outside of the Lutheran tradition like John Piper, and Louie Giglio. One thing Chris always made sure of was whatever we heard it would be digested in the context of Lutheran theology. We would discuss what we heard, what we liked, what we did not like, and how it applies to us as college students and as Lutherans. The conversations were very engaging. We took a break from the videos and audio one summer to read a book called, “Don’t Waste Your Life”, by John Piper. Piper connected the concept of wasting your life by not wasting it for Christ and his Gospel mission. And he wrote it specifically for people in our age bracket. Piper’s pages were saturated with the cross and Jesus’ redemptive work done on it. So even for Lutherans, reading a non-Lutheran, it is a great read.
The group started growing and we realized we needed a bigger space so we started meeting in a bigger room. We also realized we could reach out to non-college aged people who were young adults in the career world, so we did and we still do. Sometimes we would pack in 20 plus people to hear God’s Word and enjoy fellowship. Other studies included watching Concordia Seminary Professor Dr. Biermann on the school’s iTunes U resource page. Every video on that page is free of charge and offers practical Lutheran theology. We discussed things like vocation, faith, the theology of the cross, baptism, and other Lutheran concepts while directly applying it to our current situations in school or career. This past summer we alternated weekly by looking at a Concordia Publishing House bible study on the movie The Dark Knight. We also went into a study on the book of Revelation.
We really have incorporated our life around this ministry. During the summer months our congregation moves to a schedule of Thursday nights so we all go to worship beforehand, receive God’s gracious gifts, and then meet for Bible Study. Following worship and bible study we head out to the local Applebee’s for half priced appetizers. This was great to maybe unpack more of what we have been studying, or to just be able to talk about whatever was on our minds. We do not limit this ministry to just members of our congregation, but extend it to all, and we sometimes have non-members join us. For the immediate future a group of those home in the college, graduate, or early career field are meeting during advent to take a closer look at the incarnation of Jesus and how God being incarnate applies to their lives.
So what works is “be simple”. Reach out to those young adults in your church and give them the Gospel of Hope. That is something all age brackets need.”
Are you a part of young adult ministry in your community? How did you start? What did you learn? Write to me by clicking on “contact us” and share your story! Your church body needs to hear your voice!