Relevance – A Calling for Young Adults? | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
February 2012

Relevance – A Calling for Young Adults?

By Chris Wilterdink

I just returned from Las Vegas where I participated in Relevance LEAD and Relevance X Each event is designed to bring together young adults (YAs) in the UMC.

Relevance X has been going on for several years as an fellowship, service, keynote style event weekend. It initially began as an event for the Desert Southwest Conference, but has steadily grown to welcome people from all over the west. Dale Fredrickson of Colorado lead several keynotes on the idea that we journey as Christians being “Lost, Located, Leading.” Jim Walker furthered that vision through his talks and biblical examples. Over 150 YAs gathered for this event. Their combined vision spoke to the gathering of Gen X and Millennial folks, all growing in faith and responsibility.

This was the first year for Relevance Lead which capped its available spots to 100, and invited those who directly lead ministries with young adults for a “Ted” style time of learning and networking. 8 different 18-minute talks over a variety of topics all had something to offer for those leaders gathered. Many of the leaders in this group came from Wesley Foundation or Campus Ministry backgrounds, and others came from local churches, General Agencies of the UMC, and conference workers with young adult responsibilities. Video and audio footage of the event should become available soon! The talks ranged from debates about the future of the church, to meaningful connections with upcoming generations, to new monasticism and intentional communities. I believe each participant left feeling as though they had gained valuable connections as well as a bevy of ideas. Relevance Lead will take place again in 2013 and be open nationwide.

After having several days to reflect on the talks that were given, the experiences shared, and the fellowship enjoyed I have come to the conclusion that this event is perfectly named for the current generations of YAs. The string that tied together every presentation and conversation I had at this event came back to the concept of relevance – Gen X and Millennials both seek to live lives of balance and meaning, hoping to connect with others to live relevant lives! We hope to become personally relevant to others as we participate in ministry. We pray that our denomination and faith will be and remain relevant in today’s world. We desire to be relevant in the eyes of God, and a real part of the kingdom of God. These generations (in general) are not content with monotony or not knowing the purpose of their actions. These generations desire meaning in all that they do!

Young adults today desire more than to be acceptable, or even tolerated, in the UMC. YAs desire relevance in the life of the church and in crafting ministry. Relevance Lead brought minds and hearts together with big dreams and visions for the UMC. The event also gave the participants time to meaningfully connect and discuss where to go from the event itself.

How do you find meaning in your ministry? How do you assure yourself of relevance to the church and the world? If you live in an area where you feel isolated or lonely in ministry, I encourage you to check out the Relevance X and Lead links at the top of the page and consider beginning a gathering of young adults in your area if none currently exist. If safety exists in numbers, so too does relevance.

Chris serves as Director of Young People’s Ministries for Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Chris has a BA in English Education, and an MS in Project Management, and over 15 years of local-church youth ministry experience. He is passionate about leadership and faith development in young people and helping ministry leaders understand their value in the lives of young people. A Stephen Minister, Chris is a native of Colorado living in Franklin, TN with his wife Emily, 2 children, and sausage-shaped beagle.