What would it look like to invite emerging adults to speak into the life and direction of the church? What if there were an event geared toward equipping young adults to strengthen their church communities—and what if those young adults planned the event?
These questions came out of a conversation between Youth Ministry catalyzer Ron deVries, Faith Formation Ministries director Chris Schoon, and Therefore Go executive director Rick Zomer in 2019. As they spoke together, the three conceived the idea of an event planned by and for emerging adults and ministry leaders to take place Aug. 4-5, 2021, right before the Christian Reformed Church’s Inspire 2021 conference.
“When it comes to talking about the actual ‘being’ of the church and speaking into direction, quite often we don’t give a lot of space to emerging adults,” said deVries. “It became very clear to us that we shouldn’t be the ones planning (the event), ... but we can certainly walk alongside.”
DeVries reached out through the network of CRC Youth Ministry Champions to identify young adults who might be a good fit for the opportunity. The selected candidates formed a planning team representing the geographic spread of the CRC across North America, with members from Arizona, Iowa, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec.
“The team’s strength is really in our ability to synthesize each of our unique outlooks and use them to pour into a common goal,” said team member Scott Bandy of Calvin CRC in Ottawa, Ont. “I’ve enjoyed listening to the feedback of my co-planners and hearing their hearts behind this event.” As the team continues to meet virtually, they are also discussing ideas for a virtual event if public health guidelines still discourage large in-person gatherings in 2021.
While the logistical details of the event have not been finalized, organizers hope to gather around 100 emerging adults and youth ministry pastors to wrestle with questions such as “What does it mean to be church?” and “What does faith formation look like?” Event participants will then be equipped to bring what they’ve learned and experienced back to their church communities.
“So often there are generational divides, especially in the church, and we don’t know how to connect with one another,” said team member Kylie Kalmbach of Covenant CRC in Edmonton, Alta. “I pray that God will use this pre-conference to bring us all together.”