By Allan Martin, July 30: In the aftermath of the General Conference Session in San Antonio, many young adults in the Adventist denomination are hurting, their faith wounded. The following short, practical article by a pastor was published by the denomination’s North American Division:
Let us tenderly care for our wounded.
Let us empathize and listen intently.
Let us not be so mesmerized by the mission beyond … that we neglect the mission within.
Let us do the mundane ministry, the ordinary ministry, the invisible ministry, the messy ministry.
Let us see those neglected and let our sight be our best expression of embrace.
Let us hear and let our attentiveness be our best expression of hope.
Let us come close and let our nearness be the touch of God.
Let us do unto others as we would have had them do unto us in our moment of need.
Here are five suggestions for pastors as they help Millennials and others process GC 2015:
- Actively listen and empathize. Initially, it is likely most important to hear their heart and allow them to voice their emotions and reactions.
- Avoid defending, fixing, excusing, or responding from your personal purview. Allow there to be some to focus on the member’s experience without lacing it with your own.
- Apologize. To whatever degree there has been negative and hurtful consequences, it is healing to know there is an acknowledgement of the hurt and a sincere request for forgiveness.
- Allow it to be messy. Permit members to process through their mix of feelings and reactions. Create a safe space for candor, while maintaining healthy conversation. This may take time and not resolve quickly.
- Access additional resources. For some this will feel traumatic, even debilitating. Be sure to have supportive resources that can go beyond your pastoral care (i.e. counseling and therapeutic referrals).
Dr. A. Allan Martin is the teaching pastor for the Young Generation Church young adult ministry of the Arlington Adventist Church in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas.