What Do Adventists Offer for Young Adults?

In recent years, the age group often classified as “young adults” has been trickier to engage. It’s been a significant concern for Christian churches around the world. Though interestingly enough, similar observations regarding young adults have been coming up in conversations about the economy, the entertainment industry, politics, and more.

We could discuss the likely causes for this disengagement until we’re blue in the face. But most research agrees that these young people, aged 18-35, often report feeling lonely, misunderstood, and/or frustrated with the status quo. They also long for community and acceptance.1

That’s why the Seventh-day Adventist Church makes it a priority to understand and cater to the unique needs of today’s young adults in the volatile, digitally-focused, social-media-saturated society we live in.

Generational differences are inevitable, so our methods will be ever-adapting. But here’s a look into what the Adventist Church does to help young adults have a place to belong and a place to serve with their gifts.

We’ll go over:

Let’s get started.

What are young adult ministries?

A young adult standing in front of a cross and showing his commitment to follow Jesus ChristAs of recently, young adult ministries focus on the age group and stage of life that begins in the later years of college, or as a young person is becoming independent. This usually ends up covering the ages of 21-30.2

The official mission of young adult ministry in the Adventist Church is:

“The engagement and salvation of young adults through Jesus Christ. We understand this ministry to be that work of the church that is conducted for, with, and by young people.”3

Although there are official resources and programming from the General Conference,4 or the World Headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, most young adult ministry options are organized and operated on the local level, because the size and needs of this age group can vary so much depending on location and community type.

For example, the North American Division (NAD) has a ministry called the Adventist Christian Fellowship.5 Their goal is for Adventist college students to witness at public colleges.

And at individual church locations, you might find:

  • Young adult Sabbath school groups
  • Young adult Bible study groups
  • Interest-based activity groups (biking, hiking, board games, book clubs, etc.)
  • Hobby-based activities (drawing, knitting, or cooking)
  • Community service projects (food donations, distributing Christian literature, homeless feeding, Habitat for Humanity, etc.)
  • Stage-of-life activities or events (parenting groups or classes, marriage encounter events, financial planning seminars, etc.)
  • Mission trips (like this mission cruise!)

Overall, these programs help young people grow spiritually as they befriend and serve others.

How young adult ministry started in the Adventist Church

The first young adult ministry was created in 1879, when two teenagers formed the Adventist Youth Society.6 Henry Fenner and Luther Warren saw the need for a community of believers to uplift and guide each other to Christ.7 This group ministered to both Adventists and non-Adventists—joining them together in Bible study, worship, and fun activities.8

In 1907, the Adventist Church formally created a ministry called, “Young People’s Society of Missionary Volunteers.”9 But by 1979, this name was shortened to “Adventist Youth.”10

Today, however, the phrase “Adventist Youth” refers to ministries for high school-aged kids. Whereas the ministry for 20-35-year-olds is now called Young Adults, or YA—a category that is relatively new not just in the church realm, but in society as well.11

But you still might find some longer-running young adult programs to still use the term “youth” to refer to any ministry for people 35 and younger.

The Adventist Church uses the young adult ministry program to:

  • Encourage young adults to strengthen their relationship with Christ as they establish their independence
  • Empower them to be leaders or difference-makers among their peers (and the church as a whole)

This ministry has involved youth leadership training from the very beginning. The Bible reaffirms that the youth shouldn’t be underestimated (1 Timothy 4:12).

In fact, many of Adventism’s early founders started God’s work in their late teens and twenties.12
History has proved that when it comes to serving God, age isn’t an issue!

Benefits of young adult ministries

A group of Adventist young adults sitting around a table and having a Bible studyYoung adult ministry programs can help strengthen people’s relationships with Jesus as well as with others. It can also provide support and community during a time of life when you’re just beginning to establish your household, your career, your family, or even your identity as you consider your place in today’s world.

These ministries seek to do that by:

  • Helping develop a Christian character
  • Teaching how to witness and serve, as life presents more opportunities than when you were younger
  • Helping maintain a Christ-centered life (prioritizing responsibility to Christ over worldly responsibilities)
  • Establishing a Christian community focused on belonging, support, and encouraging one another

Because if anyone needs a tight-knit community of fellow believers, it’s young adults.

On top of solidifying their professional identity, young adults are at the stage where they start to assess the effectiveness of their upbringing, especially when it comes to their beliefs. For the first time in their lives, they may be left to make significant life decisions on their own. And one of the most critical decisions is deciding whether to join a church or not.

They’re trying to ask themselves why they believe what they do—or why they attend church. Those born into the church often begin with what’s referred to as “adolescent faith.”13 They are used to accepting the teachings of their parents and authority figures without much question.

But there comes a time when young adults must choose to do those things because they have internalized their beliefs—not because they’re being told to.

And as young adults start to evaluate their beliefs, they look for a support system. They’re looking for people to gently guide them to the truth. They’re looking for peers to connect to.

But sometimes, well-intentioned churches get caught up in preaching doctrine while neglecting fellowship and friendship.

Questioning one’s long-held beliefs can be a frightening experience. So young adult ministry aims to provide a welcoming environment where young people can navigate life’s questions with Bible principles. Their mission is to provide young adults with authenticity, belonging, compassion, and discipleship.14

How to get involved in local groups

If you’re a young adult and looking for something that could be helpful for you at this stage of life, you can first start by looking up the nearest Seventh-day Adventist Church. Their website or social media page is likely to have information about their different Bible study groups and ministries.

What are young adult ministries?

A young adult standing in front of a cross and showing his commitment to follow Jesus ChristAs of recently, young adult ministries focus on the age group and stage of life that begins in the later years of college, or as a young person is becoming independent. This usually ends up covering the ages of 21-30.2

The official mission of young adult ministry in the Adventist Church is:

“The engagement and salvation of young adults through Jesus Christ. We understand this ministry to be that work of the church that is conducted for, with, and by young people.”3

Although there are official resources and programming from the General Conference,4 or the World Headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, most young adult ministry options are organized and operated on the local level, because the size and needs of this age group can vary so much depending on location and community type.

For example, the North American Division (NAD) has a ministry called the Adventist Christian Fellowship.5 Their goal is for Adventist college students to witness at public colleges.

And at individual church locations, you might find:

  • Young adult Sabbath school groups
  • Young adult Bible study groups
  • Interest-based activity groups (biking, hiking, board games, book clubs, etc.)
  • Hobby-based activities (drawing, knitting, or cooking)
  • Community service projects (food donations, distributing Christian literature, homeless feeding, Habitat for Humanity, etc.)
  • Stage-of-life activities or events (parenting groups or classes, marriage encounter events, financial planning seminars, etc.)
  • Mission trips (like this mission cruise!)

Overall, these programs help young people grow spiritually as they befriend and serve others.

How young adult ministry started in the Adventist Church

The first young adult ministry was created in 1879, when two teenagers formed the Adventist Youth Society.6 Henry Fenner and Luther Warren saw the need for a community of believers to uplift and guide each other to Christ.7 This group ministered to both Adventists and non-Adventists—joining them together in Bible study, worship, and fun activities.8

In 1907, the Adventist Church formally created a ministry called, “Young People’s Society of Missionary Volunteers.”9 But by 1979, this name was shortened to “Adventist Youth.”10

Today, however, the phrase “Adventist Youth” refers to ministries for high school-aged kids. Whereas the ministry for 20-35-year-olds is now called Young Adults, or YA—a category that is relatively new not just in the church realm, but in society as well.11

But you still might find some longer-running young adult programs to still use the term “youth” to refer to any ministry for people 35 and younger.

The Adventist Church uses the young adult ministry program to:

  • Encourage young adults to strengthen their relationship with Christ as they establish their independence
  • Empower them to be leaders or difference-makers among their peers (and the church as a whole)

This ministry has involved youth leadership training from the very beginning. The Bible reaffirms that the youth shouldn’t be underestimated (1 Timothy 4:12).

In fact, many of Adventism’s early founders started God’s work in their late teens and twenties.12
History has proved that when it comes to serving God, age isn’t an issue!

Benefits of young adult ministries

A group of Adventist young adults sitting around a table and having a Bible studyYoung adult ministry programs can help strengthen people’s relationships with Jesus as well as with others. It can also provide support and community during a time of life when you’re just beginning to establish your household, your career, your family, or even your identity as you consider your place in today’s world.

These ministries seek to do that by:

  • Helping develop a Christian character
  • Teaching how to witness and serve, as life presents more opportunities than when you were younger
  • Helping maintain a Christ-centered life (prioritizing responsibility to Christ over worldly responsibilities)
  • Establishing a Christian community focused on belonging, support, and encouraging one another

Because if anyone needs a tight-knit community of fellow believers, it’s young adults.

On top of solidifying their professional identity, young adults are at the stage where they start to assess the effectiveness of their upbringing, especially when it comes to their beliefs. For the first time in their lives, they may be left to make significant life decisions on their own. And one of the most critical decisions is deciding whether to join a church or not.

They’re trying to ask themselves why they believe what they do—or why they attend church. Those born into the church often begin with what’s referred to as “adolescent faith.”13 They are used to accepting the teachings of their parents and authority figures without much question.

But there comes a time when young adults must choose to do those things because they have internalized their beliefs—not because they’re being told to.

And as young adults start to evaluate their beliefs, they look for a support system. They’re looking for people to gently guide them to the truth. They’re looking for peers to connect to.

But sometimes, well-intentioned churches get caught up in preaching doctrine while neglecting fellowship and friendship.

Questioning one’s long-held beliefs can be a frightening experience. So young adult ministry aims to provide a welcoming environment where young people can navigate life’s questions with Bible principles. Their mission is to provide young adults with authenticity, belonging, compassion, and discipleship.14

How to get involved in local groups

If you’re a young adult and looking for something that could be helpful for you at this stage of life, you can first start by looking up the nearest Seventh-day Adventist Church. Their website or social media page is likely to have information about their different Bible study groups and ministries.

If nothing else, joining a group can give you the chance to meet other people interested in serving God and making the most of their lives. It’ll give you a chance to connect with people who face the same challenges as you. (Not to mention it can also be a great place for fun activities and good food…)

And if you’re the kind of person that has a passion for serving young people, you could get involved, too! Get started by deciding what your passion for service or ministry is. You can serve multiple ministries, of course, but it helps to narrow it down. And it’ll help your search be more specific.

But the most important thing you can do is get started. Make the first step, and pray that God will help you take it from there. He can lead you to a group or a ministry that best fits your needs and aspirations.

Find more information and resources about young adult ministies and progamming:

North American Division
Inter-American Division
South American Division
East-Central Africa Division
West-Central African Division
Southern African-Indian Division
Inter-European Division
Trans-European Division
Northern Asia-Pacific Division
South Pacific Division
– A quick-start guide for young adult ministry initiatives
Adventist Young Professionals network

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