In my role as Indiana Conference Associate Director of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministries, the most popular question I hear is, “How do we get young adults involved in our congregation?” The problem is complex and culturally influenced; the answer simple but truly challenging.
During the past 40 to 50 years, like many other institutions in our culture, we distributed responsibility for educating and raising young people to someone else. We hired or appointed youth ministry leaders to do ministry with youth for us, and we financially supported campus ministers to reach college students for us. The problem was and is that in entrusting the ministry to someone else, we didn’t at the same time maintain our own relationships, either with theses ministries or with our young people. I find again and again in conversation with young adults that they often have good relationships with their youth pastor/leader or campus minister, but too often no connection with our congregations.
Thus the simple answer to getting young people involved in our congregations is to build authentic, caring and lasting relationships with them. What does this look like? Let me suggest three ways to connect to upcoming ministry offerings:
- If you are mentoring a youth in confirmation, join them at CONNECT: The Bishop’s Confirmation Rally, March 12, to show them that you are invested. Even more important, mentor a young person outside of confirmation, and don’t let the end of confirmation be the end of supporting his or her spiritual growth.
- Sponsor a young adult or college student to attend the MOVE Retreat, April 8-9. Even more important, find ways to support a young adult leading from his or her passions and gifts and to provide ongoing support and resources to support his or her dreams for serving others.
- Hold a Campus Ministry Sunday and receive the Campus Ministry Offering in February (or any time through the year). Even more important, make a personal connection with a campus ministry in your part of the state by visiting with the campus minister, inviting a student to speak in worship, or sponsoring a care package for a college student from your community away at school.
In our United Methodist Book of Worship, there is a wonderful, rich charge given to the congregation in the baptismal covenant. To the worshipping community after the candidate’s reception into the congregation, the pastor says, “Do all in your power to increase their faith, confirm their hope, and perfect them in love.”
The words pose a question to us as we seek to make disciples: Are we doing “all in our power”? Are we willing to truly invest the time and energy needed to form deep, authentic, Christ-centered relationships with youth and young adults that don’t end at confirmation, graduation, or first job? Are we willing to reclaim our connection?
Do all in your power…
Colleges and Universities currently served by UMC-Related Campus Ministries or UMC Chaplains
- Ball State University, Muncie
- DePauw University, Greencastle
- Indiana State University, Terre Haute
- Indiana Tech – Fort Wayne
- Purdue University, West Lafayette
- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute
- St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, north of Terre Haute
- University of Evansville
- University of Indianapolis
- Vincennes University
Note: The Conference Campus Ministry Team is currently compiling a list of congregations that have campus outreach ministries. If you have a ministry with college and university students, please e-mail them to the Rev. Brian Durand at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.