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Coaching Young Adults’ Calling
By Nate Elias

As a youth and young adult pastor, the recent findings of the Barna Group concerning Seventh-day Adventist Church Millennials rang true in my suburban America setting. Often the solution has been to include young adults within the system of the church officers. For too many churches this has failed to stop the parade of young adults walking out of church. Young adults are not interested in filling positions, but rather fulfilling their God-given callings.
In the May 2014 issue of Ministry, Clint Jenkins and Allan Martin tell us that A key factor in maintaining engagement among young adults is positive experiences and relationships with older Adventist members and church leadership.” They recommended three keys to facilitate this process: intergenerational relationships, forgiveness and acceptance, and platforms for sharing. Young adults seek permission and approval to follow their God-given callings.
In my ministry I have discovered that the most effective model for empowering young adults is the coaching model. The coach is not concerned about creating the calling. God puts the calling in the heart of the young adult. The young adult brings the desire to find the expression of their calling to the coaching experience. In the search for fulfillment, the calling dictates the direction.

Invite Them to Dream
Give the young adults you coach an open invitation to search for God’s calling. The sad reality is that most people just live their lives and do not dream. Few have discovered the power of a dream, and that’s where one’s calling truly begins. During the teen years, many lose their ability to dream. Young adults need permission to dream. Hearing God’s call requires the ability to dream.

Invite God Into the Dream
Challenge those you coach to invite God to enter into their dreams. Many people today are not regularly reading their Bible and having personal devotions. Hearing God speak to them is like listening to a foreign language they do not understand. Through daily Bible reading, prayer, and spiritually focused books, young adults can become aware of God’s voice. By giving God a platform to speak into their lives, their calling can become clear.   

Awaken the Calling
The most difficult step is “What do I do with my calling?”  Up to this point the experience is personal. Now the coach must begin to ask the question, “How are you going to follow God in this calling?” The coach does not provide the answer; instead the coach asks questions that lead the young adult to their discovery.

When the young adult enters the discovery process the coach has to be willing to walk alongside them, without trying to interject direction. The coach must take significant risks during this phase and become a protective shield to the exploring young adult. There are well meaning members who think that the young adult needs to pursue a specific direction. Daniel would have never made it to Babylon let alone work for Nebuchadnezzar if well-meaning Jews had controlled the direction of his life.  A vital part of awakening the calling process is that the young adult feels the forgiveness and acceptance of the church. This is the time when mistakes and apparent failures have to be seen as times of growing and discovery and not times to tear down the calling.

Live the Calling
As the young adult continues to explore and discover ways to follow their calling; the coach becomes the cheerleader. Their role is to encourage them to live their calling, to challenge them to keep dreaming, to defend their calling, and to celebrate their integral place in the church body.

The coaching process takes time, and yet it is so rewarding. I believe that when we walk beside our young adults and embrace their callings, we will see the church become a place that is truly intergenerational, that is forgiving and accepting, and that affirms the callings of all our members – especially our young adults.

Nate Elias is the youth and young adult pastor for the Peachtree City Church in Sharpsburg, GA