21 August 2019 | Younger Generation (YG) Congregation of the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church celebrates 15 years of ministry this month. It launched in August 2004 and is one of the few successful Adventist young adult ministries not located adjacent to an Adventist university or health care institution.
And YG simply isn’t your average Adventist congregation.
Illuminated hands are upraised to heaven in a dimly lit sanctuary as vocalists and a band from a spotlighted stage pour forth passionate lyrics not found in the hymnal, the messages of the praise songs corroborated by expressions brimming with emotion. Emotion that not only moves the hearts of those in the sanctuary but of those with whom they come in contact on the streets.
Welcome to YG.
YG started as a third church service for Senior Pastor Mike Tucker, who wanted to integrate more young adults into the church—primarily through encouraging them to direct their own, innovative worship experience. Of course, the very nature of innovation implies change, an idea that rubbed against the grain of many members of the Arlington Church.
“The music. The staging. The lights. Smoke machine. Everything about it,” shares Tucker in an interview with Melinda Pandiangan, explaining what made some members uncomfortable with YG’s contemporary service. “They said, ‘We like the fact that you’re doing a young adult ministry. We think you could do it differently.’” (“The DNA of YG”)
Tucker didn’t back down from what he felt called to lead, and while he doesn’t take credit for the creation of YG, he sees the value in what its young leaders are doing with it. “I gave young adults the opportunity to create something with the Spirit leading them. I set them in motion, gave them the opportunity, protected them, and got out of the way,” he tells Pandiangan.
But how Tucker’s upstart project became one of the most successful worship services in attracting Adventist young adults is a somewhat different story.
In 2010, Dr. Allan Martin accepted the call to leave his full-time faculty position at Andrews University seminary and take the role of lead pastor at YG. It was then that he began weaving the DNA of YG Congregation into the entirety of the Arlington Church.
“Intergenerational mentorship is intrinsic” to Martin’s initiative, writes Samantha Angeles Peralta in the article “How to Grow Young.” Through his #EveryMemberAMentor program, individuals of ages across the spectrum can be seen working together behind the scenes, all the while sharing with each other their expertise, wisdom, and love for Jesus. It’s not uncommon to see several of the Traditionalists (elderly members) working alongside Boomers who may be supervising Millennials working in YG’s Media Ministry team. Those youth, in turn, teach even younger individuals the skills necessary to be a part of the production. Of course, mentoring extends into other aspects of the church, such as via LIFEgroups.
LIFEgroups “range from interest-based gatherings, such as basketball teams, to theological discussion groups. However, each group studies Scripture together, prays together and seeks to hold one another accountable,” Peralta elaborates.
With such an intergenerational demographic and a pool of eclectic interests, YG shows itself to truly be a church for everyone. Inclusive and transformative, it is the “community that fosters intimacy, community, and grace,” emphasizes Tim Kosaka, editor-in-chief of Younger Generation Magazine.
But what really keeps the young adults active in this church is knowing they can exhibit these three core traits in the outside community. Peralta quotes Martin, “We know from the research that most young adults won’t give a second look to your church if you’re not doing something meaningful in your local community to make a difference.” And that’s why they created Revive Community Care, which aids the homeless and less fortunate with food, clothing and toiletries distribution, companionship, and (soon-to-come) medical clinics and tutoring services. (Valeria Morales, “Revive Community Care”)
“YG is the person struggling with addiction, simply trying to find his or her purpose in life. YG is the student passionate about Jesus and excited for his or her future. YG is the hardworking parent focused on supporting his or her family,” Kosaka adds.
YG is a place of authenticity that emanates in worship, intimacy, and community involvement. YG is more than just a church, more than just a young adult ministry. It is a community, a family seeking intimacy with God and to fully experience God’s grace.
“Younger Generation is not limited by physical age,” Bogdan Kuchurivskyy summarizes. “It’s for anyone passionate about being Jesus to younger generations and the world.” (“A Lasting Impression”)
Arlington is the major suburb that connects the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. It has a population of almost 400,000 and includes a campus of the University of Texas. There are 10 Adventist local churches in the town, with a total membership of 4,188. The Arlington Church is the largest, with a membership of 2,468.
To learn more about Younger Generation Congregation, click here to visit its website.
Sources and image are taken from Younger Generation Magazine.