I work with over 100 college aged students each summer, at the Warren W. Willis United Methodist Camp. As a former youth director, I have seen students come through youth ministry, college, and graduation. I have even seen students of mine get married, and have their own children. Youth ministry plays a huge role in preparing students for life after high school. Far too often, life after high school begins a void in a young adult’s Christian community. Some take the transition in stride getting involved with a positive Christian community or campus ministry, others don’t have access to a community where they live, or don’t take the initiative to seek out a Christian community.
Of the counselors I work with, the ones who are in involved in young adult ministry during the year, are more likely to take on leadership roles, strive for excellence, and seek ministry opportunities while at camp. Each year we interview our returning staff in February. At that interview, it is clearly visible who is thriving in their faith life and feeling fulfilled, and who is struggling to find direction. Those who are thriving are always involved in a young adult ministry—particularly one that encourages service and leadership opportunities and promotes Christian community.
Young adult ministry matters because it provides community, provides opportunities of service, and promotes leadership. Out of high school these students need to be challenged, they need to exercise their faith, and they need to be a part of a community where they learn to take initiative through leadership and exploration of ideas and concepts that help form their faith.