by Rev. Scott Parrish
Recently, I’ve been struggling with a question: How are we actively assisting young adults in our sphere of influence to find their place in the United Methodist global mission movement?
I confess I find it easy to get locked in on my everyday tasks, and sometimes lose the long-term importance of actively engaging the next generation in service. As I start a new year, I’m looking for more chances to share the mission. We deacons may be the key to getting the word out and involving young adults in service.
The United Methodist Church offers many mission opportunities for young adults ages 18 to 30. Imagine if at least two or three young adults from each conference were to take up this call! Since deacons should be at the front line of mission, with one foot firmly in the church and one foot firmly in the world, it is particularly important that we are advocates for our connectional mission.
Here are some opportunities to communicate to your church’s young adults:
Generation Transformation offers great options in mission for young adults. Deadlines are quickly approaching, so get the word out right away. The opportunities range from Global Justice Volunteers (two months) to Global Mission Fellows (two years). The service locations can be in the United States or elsewhere in the world. Individual volunteer opportunities are open to all ages (yes, we want everyone involved in mission). Let’s focus specifically on young adults.
Global Justice Volunteers come from all over the world and sent to almost anywhere in the world to serve for two months, June to August. These young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 serve in settings where they can explore the links between faith and social justice. This program gives the volunteers the opportunity to develop new skills, learn from local experts, and channel their passion to help build just communities.
Global Mission Fellows serve two years and engage in a range of work, including ministries with children and youth, community and congregational development, leadership development, ministry with the poor, social justice, and more. International placements depend on language skills. Those with strong second-language abilities often do more specialized work.
There are currently 87 young adult missionaries serving in 20 countries. General Board of Global Ministries wants to grow this number and needs our help!
Here’s what some young adults have said about their time in mission service:
“Generation Transformation gives you a space to grow and an opportunity to become part of something bigger than yourself. . . . This is the perfect way to ignite your faith and transform yourself and the world around you. I have learned that often the mission we think we’re doing is not always the mission God is working on.” Jerrica Becker, Global Mission Fellow US-2 Track 2012-2014. Home: Oklahoma. Placement: Murphy Harpst Children’s Center, Cedartown, Georgia.
“Young-adult mission opportunities are just starting to bloom in our Central Conference, and I am encouraging young people to discern their call for mission. It was often hard to know that my enthusiasm for mission was not widely shared in the UMC in my country. Part of me would say that I am in the Global Mission Fellows program so that I can be a living testimony and encouragement to young people in the Philippines to apply and do as I have done.” Joy Eva Bohol, Global Mission Fellow International Track 2013-2015. Home: Cebu City, Philippines. Placement: Centro Popular Para America Latina en Comunicación (CEPALC) in Bogotá, Colombia.
As deacons well know, service is transformational both for those served and those who serve!
There are a number of great Generation Transformation resources that engagingly tell the story of young adults in mission:
Generation Transformation: Transforming Lives video (two minutes): GT alumni tell how their experiences changed their outlook and their lives.
Use these resources, and feel free to contact me. I can help you in your work of mission in your conference and jurisdiction.
Scott Parrish is a deacon and clergy member of North Georgia Annual Conference. He is mission specialist, Connectional Ministries, for North Georgia Conference and a mission strategist for General Board of Global Ministries. For North Georgia, he serves as coach, networker, and trainer in mission. For GBGM he assists churches and districts with mission celebrations as a strategy to communicate opportunities and launch into a new year of service in following Christ. His ministry is to inspire, engage, equip, and deploy more people in mission as they take the next step of faith following in the way of Christ.