As we face the era when churches are also fascinated by statistics, 70% was the number that caught my attention a lot. You can go online, search “Adventist young adults leaving Adventist church,” and you will find lots of articles that talk about this phenomenon, which, I believe, is a significant challenge for all of us. Many of the articles mention “about 70% of Young Adults have left the church in recent years”. The Adventist Church is not alone in this struggle. Many Evangelical Christian denominations are going through similar struggles dealing with the phenomenon of Christian youth and young-adults dropping out from church.
The other 70% figure that challenges me was also the number of Adventist college students attending public colleges and universities. As a person who went through Adventist educational system from kindergarten through graduate school, I fully support Adventist education. However, we cannot ignore the fact that we are facing a reality of having about 70% Adventist college age students in North America attending public colleges and universities. It seems an interesting coincidence of having very close the number “70%” on both reports. In this article, I am not trying to solve why these two reports have similar statistics and what is a connection between these two. However, it simply gives us significant enough reason to approach to our Adventist students on public colleges and universities in order to be connected with Adventist church communities and create safe environments where our youth and young adult members can have a meaningful relationship with Jesus for their future spiritual journey.
In the State of Minnesota, there are many public college campuses. One example is University of Minnesota, which had over 51,000 enrolled students in 2013-2014 school year. University of Minnesota campuses are in Minneapolis, St, Paul, Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester. Others schools are like Minnesota State University (over 15,000 enrolled students), Bemidji State University (over 5,000 enrolled students), St. Cloud State University (over 15,000 enrolled students) and we have more schools around. These campuses are not only attractive locations for Adventist students because of their college brand (reputation) and their school size, but also, these school campuses can be huge evangelism opportunities for Adventist Churches if they are in the same community with those schools.
Minnesota Conference leadership takes this ministry opportunity seriously. For the first step, we want to create a channel of communication to be connected with our current Adventist college students in those campuses. We want to provide opportunity for current and future college students to meet, and have fellowship together on campus. Moreover, we want to provide resources and trainings for our current Adventist college students in order to reach out to public university campuses as ambassadors of Christ.
On March 11-13, 2016, at the North Star Camp, there was a very special retreat for current college Adventist students and also those who are interested in college campus ministry. Pastor Ron Pickell, who is a pastor at Berkley SDA Church, and also serves as Adventist Christian Fellowship Volunteer Coordinator for NAD, presented his personal experiences based on his thirty plus years of ministry on public campuses and provided resources for students and attendees. Pastor Pickell shared how to lead small group bible discussions, and why should our Adventist students be connected on public campuses and reach out to others. We have student attendees from University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Duluth campus, Bemidji State University, Minnesota State University Mankato and several other colleges in Twin Cities metro area. These students and attendees had worship, fellowship having fun together throughout weekend, and everyone had a meaningful conversation on Sabbath afternoon on how can we be more connected and organized as Adventist student groups in different locations.
Please keep praying for Public Campus Ministry in Minnesota Conference, and let the conference Youth department know if anyone you know, plans to attend public universities in Minnesota, so that we may be connected and do great things for God on those campuses. Let us share the Light to those college campuses with our Adventist students!
Sean Lee, Minnesota Conference Youth Pastor
e-TNL is an informational bulletin issued by the Communications Department of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. You are free to re-print any portion of the bulletin without need for special permission. However, we kindly request that you identify e-TNL whenever you publish these materials.