Project Documents

Date of Award

2005

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Barry Gane

Second Advisor

Ernest Furness

Third Advisor

Bruce Moyer

Abstract

Problem. It was apparent to many of the Wausau Seventh-day Adventist Church members, as well as the pastor, that there was an apparent lack or minimal level of participation of young adults (ages 17-35) in the life of the church. It was the strong desire of the pastor and many of the members of the congregation to be inclusive of young adults, provide ministries for and by them, and to foster an environment for them to he able to grow in a deeper relationship with Jesus. It was evident that the current practice and ministry levels at the church were not meeting the needs or attracting this important segment of the population.

Method. A two-year process began with the introduction of the local elders to the current literature to assist them in what were the possible issues involved in the rejection of the young adults of the church. Concurrently, the pastor and his wife initiated a social/spiritual ministry (called Face2Face) at the onset of the project which was aimed specifically to college-aged young adults living in the greater Wausau area. The worship liturgy began a process of change which included the inclusion of more contemporary Christian praise music to be blended with familiar hymns. PowerPoint presentations for announcements, worship service elements and sermon presentations were also included in the change process. The pastor endeavored to project a more positive, energetic and spiritual atmosphere during the Sabbath morning services. Leading laity were engaged in many hours of discussion about what kind of a church they believed God wanted and a consensus was developed. A document defining the Wausau Church was then developed and adopted. It became the foundation for the future development of new ministries as well as educating new members or attendees to the ministry philosophy of church.

Results. At the conclusion of the project’s two-year time period, the church had more than doubled in attendance at the worship services. A generational shift of those born after 1964 went from 45.5 percent of the congregational attendees to 63.1 percent. All generational groups experienced growth, but those between the ages of 17-40 experienced the greatest and most significant increase. The increased participation was also reflected in the young adults increasing their numbers in leadership roles within the church, as well as placing their children in the age-appropriate Sabbath School divisions. A twenty-year decline in church membership had been reversed.

Conclusions. The project was effective in achieving a significant increase of young adults’ participation in the life of the Wausau Church. It is evident that the process of laity education and change was effective in bringing about a new atmosphere or new church culture in which participation and growth could take place. The process of change that happened at Wausau Church may serve as a model to other local churches wishing to reach their young adults.

Subject Area

Church work with young adults--Seventh-day Adventists

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