For Adventist youth gone are the days of watching "Adventures in Odyssey" with their families. Now, they are the ones orchestrating events and vespers, driving to potlucks, and deeply immersing themselves in ministry. However, as young adults, the divine call to ministry and to deepen their involvement in the church can be met with conflicting feelings. They grapple with feelings of being, "benched" in their ministry or question themselves asking, "Could God really use someone like me?" In this two part investigative report the challenges and exciting opportunities facing Youth in Ontario will be presented.
The term 'benched' is often used metaphorically to describe a feeling of being side-lined or not actively involved in a particular activity or role. In the book 'Benchwarmer, Ammishaddai Grand-Jean characterizes the feelings of young adults who feel benched as 'waiting to realize a dream, purpose, or envisioned goal.' He makes a clear distinction between 'courtside spectators—observers who watch opportunities pass them by—and 'Benchwarmers' youth who are ready to engage and actively seek opportunities to serve. Ammishaddai urges young adults to adopt the athlete's mind-set— adjusting their attitude, strategizing, and practicing for active involvement so that when called upon, they can 'get in the game' and make a difference
Aside from those who feel benched, many Adventist youth in Ontario are active in ministry. They participate in praise teams, lead small group worship, serve on mission trips both locally and abroad, organize community service events, and are involved in activities such as Master Guide, Pathfinder, and ACF clubs, among others. However, many of these active youth feel 'Churched Out,' which can be defined as emotional and spiritual exhaustion resulting from the demanding and rigorous aspects of church life and service.
Understanding these challenges to Youth are vital. A Statistics Canada report identified that for the first time, young adults are eclipsing the baby boomer generation. (1) This means the future of the Adventist church in Ontario will be predominantly in the hands of the youth. The time for them to come off the bench and take an active role in church leadership and ministry is now. However, to avoid burnout and ministering only when they have the energy to do it, they must also incorporate self-care so they can have consistent energy and long-term joy in their ministry.
Part 2 of the series will report on this year's Young Adult Thrive Summit. Stay tuned as Young adults from across the province come together and share how they’ve implemented new and exciting ways to remain engaged in ministry.
(1) Civic engagement and political participation in Canada / by Martin Turcotte.: CS89-652/2015-6E-PDF - Government of Canada Publications - Canada.ca