How to Engage Young Adults: Report from Retention Summit to Adventist Leaders
By AT News Team, December 9, 2014: The student associations on the campuses of the Adventist colleges and universities across North America sent key leaders to a Summit on Young Adult Retention the weekend of October 23-25. Adventist Today reported the meeting as it convened and has obtained a copy of the report prepared by the participants and shared with denominational administrators in the annual meeting of the governing body of the denomination’s North American Division on November 13.
“Why are young adults leaving the church?” The report lists six reasons, including “often” they are “casualties of the church’s inability to portray God’s love,” and “feel as if they are not allowed to ask questions.”
Where young adults are staying in the Adventist Church it is because “there is a safe place to be real, ask questions and be [accepted when they are] broken.” Young adults are retained as church attenders when they “have seen Jesus at the center” of both “relationships and doctrine.” The report lists five factors that result in retention.
The value of this report is that it is the work of young adults themselves; young adults who are actively involved in pursuing a Christian higher education at an Adventist institution. It reflects both their personal experiences and what they have observed among others on their campus at the local churches they attend.
“What young adults need from the church” is, among other things to see the church welcome, “the prayer warriors, the doubters, the artists, the analytics, the musicians, the introverts,” the report states. “Any and all are needed and wanted in our church.” It also included a section on “what young adults are willing to give to the church.”
“It is our hope that this report will inform our church leaders as we continue to explore the topic of young adult retention and involvement in the church,” stated the 19 young leaders who signed the report. “We, as young adult leaders in our respective schools, will take the information gathered here and find practical ways to carry out the ideas expressed in this document.”
The 19 include Andrew Ashley, Dani Nobuhara and Keren Pagan from Southern Adventist University; Danielle Barnard and Ro Sang Puia from Washington Adventist University; Natalie Dorland and Katie Heinrich from Walla Walla University; Josh Estrada and Amanda Schultz from La Sierra University; Jessica Hall and Andrew Orpana from Canadian University College; Jaryn Hart and Justin Springfield from Pacific Union College; Conner Mason and Ashley Smit from Southwestern Adventist University; Debbie Pinto and Douglas Barahona representing Union College; Lindsey Pratt and Jason Schockey from Andrews University.
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