23 & 24 October 2021 (Pastoral Page) YOUNG ADULT SERVICE: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR EMPOWERMENT AND RENEWAL
By Ps Lim Wei-en
Throughout its history, The Bible Church has been a church that encourages and nurtures its young adults. The founding members of the church were a group of young adults who served and gave sacrificially to the church. Subsequent generations of young adults were thereafter invited to serve and lead the church in various capacities. Through such opportunities, many in these different generations grew in their faith and sense of ownership of the church and, by the grace of God, continue to play an active role in our faith community today.
In keeping with this ethos, the church leadership, along with the Young Adult Fellowship (YAF) leadership, have for some years discussed the possibility of having a dedicated worship service for young adults – one led by young adults for young adults. After much prayer and discussion, especially in recent months, we have decided to start a young adult service next year (likely to be launched on Easter Sunday 2022).
Here are some reasons that have motivated this move.
First, a young adult service will provide for more targeted discipleship to young adults. The main service caters to a wide range of adults, with differing life situations and needs. Topics chosen for, and application points made in, sermons necessarily have to be generic and address broader needs across various life stages. Given that young adulthood now qualifies as a unique life stage with unique challenges and opportunities, having a young adult service will allow for greater intentionality and focus in the way sermons are planned and preached. Challenges and concerns which young adults face in their particular life stage can be addressed, and the questions they are asking of life (e.g., Who am I? What am I called to do? Who can I journey with?) and of the Christian faith (e.g., How do I know God is real? How can the Bible be trusted? Why is Christianity so intolerant?) can be dealt with more purposefully.
Second, a young adult service will help foster a deeper sense of community between young adults. The young adult stage of life is marked by a growing independence from one’s family of origin, and the search for communities with which one can journey in life. These communities are usually founded upon shared interests, passions and causes, and have the power to shape the course of one’s life. A service will better allow for young adults to find this sense of community within the church and, in the long run, such community can help nurture the young adults’ character, thinking and aspirations according to Biblical principles and priorities. Weekly opportunities for connection through a dedicated service will also make it easier for mentoring relationships to be cultivated between young working adults and students and young married couples with singles/dating couples respectively.
Third, a young adult service will provide a platform for outreach, where pre-believing friends of young adults can discover more about the Christian faith while enjoying the company of their believing peers. While such opportunities have been on offer in the existing services and churchwide platforms (e.g. Alpha), a dedicated service will also allow for outreach to the young adult population to be done in a more life stage specific and sensitive way. It is also hoped that a young adult service will appeal to a “mission field” close to CBC – international students living on campus in NUS. Done rightly and hospitably, the young adult service and community can be a “home away from home” for these students, some of whom are already a part of the YAF at present.
Fourth, the young adult service will be a platform that contributes to the renewal of the church, and of the leadership of the church. A young adult service will allow for more young adults to serve and lead their generation of believers. With relevant training and mentoring, such involvement will help these young adults grow in their sense of ownership over the flock and competence to shepherd them, which in turn will benefit the main church when these young adult leaders, in faith, step up to serve the main church one day. Further, a young adult service can act as an “incubator” for the main church, where new ideas and expressions of discipleship or corporate worship can be tried and tested. If some of these prove beneficial to the young adults’ spiritual growth, they could also be slowly introduced to the main church.
In addition to these long-term reasons, a fifth and shorter-term reason for the service is that it will provide a rallying point for young adults to “return, rebuild and reconsecrate”. One of the realities of COVID-19 and the accompanying regulations aimed to curb it, is that many young adults have been less regular in participating in the main worship services, whether onsite or online. Whether this is because the young adults have become more nonchalant about corporate worship, or that the existing services have not effectively ministered to them during the pandemic is uncertain. (It is probably a combination of both factors). What has been interesting is that attendances at YAF big group meetings in the last two years has gone up, compared to pre-pandemic times. This shows that young adult interest in age-specific events remains strong, and thus, a young adult service would provide a way for young adults to re-establish a weekly rhythm of corporate worship in their lives.
We are not unaware of the concerns that the start of such a service may pose. For example, will the intergenerational unity of the church be threatened? And how will the young adults remain connected with the main church? These are valid concerns and we are working on ways to ensure that the unity within the church remains intact despite different worship services catering to different generations of believers. For example, we intend to hold regular dialogues and fellowship sessions between the church leaders and young adult leaders. And we will continue to encourage young adults to serve in the ministries of the main church and to participate in churchwide events, alongside older adults. Likewise, we welcome older adults who have a heart to mentor, host and serve young adults to do so. (Please email me to discuss how this may be done).
For those interested to find out more about this service and its implications on the main church, who are interested to support this service, or who may have concerns about this service, we would like to welcome you to a virtual townhall meeting on Sunday, 7 November, 2pm, where church and young adult leaders will be in attendance to dialogue with you. (Details of this zoom session will be provided in the E-Bulletin next week)
We covet your prayers as we seek to turn this aspiration to start a young adult service into reality.