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Conference Table focuses on asking ‘right’ questions about young adults

Conference Table focuses on asking ‘right’ questions about young adults

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Conference Table focuses on asking ‘right’ questions about young adults

Jan. 17, 2008  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0785}

An e-Review Feature
By Erik J. Alsgaard**

LAKELAND — The next Florida Conference Table will focus on an area of ministry many churches struggle with: young adults.

After neighborhood youth vandalized property at Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Bradenton, the congregation of mostly retirees decided reaching out to them was the right thing to do. The church started a ministry to give the youth a positive place to “hang out,” and today more than 80 youth participate in the ministry’s Friday night outreach. Photo courtesy of Emmanuel United Methodist Church. Photo #08-0730.

“Young Adults: Reframing the Questions,” will be held Feb. 16, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Harvest United Methodist Church in Bradenton. Originally scheduled for Oct. 20, 2007, the event was postponed to allow for broader participation throughout the conference. The event will be web cast in its entirety at

“One of the main reasons to have this Conference Table is that this is an issue that we have ‘talked around,’ but not necessarily sat down and conversed about,” said Kelly Moore, who most recently served as interim director of the conference’s Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry. “Several people at many levels are interested in this topic, but I think we are having the wrong conversations about it.”

That premise led coordinators to call this Conference Table, the 19th since the gatherings first began in 2002, “Reframing the Questions.”

The Rev. Vance Rains, newly hired as executive director of the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry, and a campus minister at Florida State University, noted several “wrong” questions churches often ask.

“Some of the ‘wrong’ questions might be what kind of worship service attracts young people? At what age do most young people return to the church? How do we get more young adults involved in our ministries?”

The “right” questions, Rains said, lead a church to new insights and new ways of reaching young adults. “Some of those questions are what is ‘good news’ for a young adult? How do young adults view ‘The Church’? How do we revision, re-imagine ‘church’ for emerging generations?” Rains said.

One of the issues in this area of ministry, Moore says, is too many churches are trying to attract young adults in they same way they appeal to older adults. “Young adults are an entirely different breed,” she said, “with different interests than where most churches now stand.”

This Conference Table is designed to encourage people to come together and share their thoughts, ideas and opinions to gain new insight into young adult ministry, Moore said. The expected result is that people will learn ways to “solve” the young adult church attendance problem by using methods that are current and relevant and to possibly begin conversations about starting a young adult ministry resource at the conference level to help local churches move forward.

“In a nutshell, this Conference Table will be about conversation, education and resourcing,” Moore said.

Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker will lead worship, and Dr. Brian Russell, associate professor of biblical studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando, will be the keynote speaker.

The Conference Table concept was established by a resolution at the 2002 Florida Annual Conference Event. It was the first sanctioned forum of the conference in which leaders of the various conference agencies deliberated, discerned God’s will and developed thoughtful, broadly considered recommendations for strategic actions. 
The first Conference Table was held in August of that year, and since then Whitaker has convened a total of 18 Conference Tables.

More information and registration details for the upcoming Conference Table are available online at There is no cost to attend, but there is a charge of $7 for lunch for those who plan to eat at the church.

More information is also available by contacting Moore at or 800-282-8011, extension 183.


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.