Growing up in the Church, I distinctly remember my conference youth director sharing the staggering statistics of how many young adults leave the Adventist faith following college. I was shocked to hear that hundreds, if not thousands of Adventists leave the church in their twenties. Like so many of us who were raised in the Adventist bubble, I realized that entering the real world would test my faith. In response, I made it my mission to be intentional as I explored my options after college.
When I graduated from Walla Walla University, I wasn’t sure where my next step in life would be. I had applied for jobs but had not found a perfect fit. Many of my friends were returning to a quiet town where they were the only young adult in their church, and I prayed that God would place me in an environment where the church was thriving with young adults. God had a plan and I soon found myself moving to Texas where I had been offered a job at Southwestern Adventist University.
Upon my arrival in Texas, my prayers were answered! I discovered YG Church, an Adventist church built on the Growing Young initiatives filled with a vibrant community of young adults. At work, I found myself surrounded by colleagues who share my faith and who share in my intentionality toward beating the statistics of a declining generation of believers. I felt blessed, but I knew that beyond my “Adventist Bubble:” across my conference, union, division and beyond, there are thousands of Adventist young professionals who have finished college, returned to a quiet church, and are struggling to find a community of young adults believers and there are hundreds if not thousands, who are leaving the church because of this lack of community. I felt called to help make a difference. This is why I started Adventist Young Professionals!
Adventist Young Professionals was started in order to engage, connect, and support the young professionals of our Church personally, spiritually, and professionally. As young adults, we are often told that we are the church of tomorrow, but I believe that we are the church of today, and in order to be strong in our faith and to be equipped to share our faith with others, we really need the support of a strong community.
Since its launch, AYP has grown from an idea to a community of thousands of young adults seeking a strong Christian community. We have developed chapters in the US and around the world that are focused on helping young professionals to find people, gatherings, and projects that are meaningful to them.
Our local ambassadors, scattered around the world, are shaping our ministry, localizing our efforts, and connecting their friends with new connections beyond their local church. Our web and social platforms are furthering this goal by sharing a variety of projects, events, and experiences and in turn, supporting meaningful connections. During this crazy time when we are socially distanced, the need to help our church’s young adults to remain socially and spiritually engaged is greater than ever.
An example of a project that we recently started is AYP devotionals, a virtual evening discussion and prayer time where dozens of young adults from around the world who had previously never met one other are virtually coming together each evening to study the Bible, pray together, and build strong Christian community even during a time of social distancing.
Currently, we are also developing an online professional network focused on fostering opportunities for young professionals and connecting adult mentors with young adult mentees and young adult mentors with college-aged mentees.
These two projects are just a couple of examples of ideas that AYPers are developing. Our team is continually growing and exploring additional ways that we can help connect and support our fellow Adventist Young Professionals personally, spiritually, and socially. We are in the process of preparing our launch in Australia later this year. We are partnering and collaborating with fellow Adventist ministry who are dedicated to sharing the love of Christ with our world!
Since the kickoff of AYP just a few months ago, I have had the opportunity to connect with hundreds of fellow young adults from different regions, backgrounds, and experiences. Getting to hear their stories and this has shown me that while we are unique as individuals, we are united as a generation of Adventists that is no longer the church of tomorrow but is the church of today!
I hope and pray that the ministry and more importantly the concept behind Adventist Young Professionals can be multiplied by our church and members. I hope that it can help keep our young adults strong and committed to the church. And I hope that it shows our church leaders and church members that young adults are passionate about the church. Because as a church, we are stronger together!