March 13, 2021 | St. John’s, Antigua | Carl Hastings
The Youth Ministries department of the South Leeward Conference (SLC) is seeking to reactivate the “Pass It On” initiative in the local church. Leadership in the department believes that this initiative can significantly increase the number of young people who remain in the church annually.
The “Pass It On” initiative was part of the strategic direction that the Adventist Youth Ministries took during the 2016-2020 quinquennium. The Adventist Youth Ministries website notes that the Pass It On initiative is an effort to encourage youth leaders to develop spiritual relationships with the church’s youth to pass on three essential values. These values are “Identity in Christ, Mission as Seventh-day Adventists, and Leadership in the Local Church”.
The SLC’s Youth Ministries department examined the 2014 report of the Office of Archives, Statistics and Research, which noted that almost two-thirds (63.5%) of respondents left the church when they were young adults. Roger Dudley, author of “Why Teenagers Leave the Church”, further seems to suggest that the church’s youth are seeking meaningful relationships, especially with mentors who are able to practice what they preach, as well as guide the next generation in their Christian walk. It is likely that young people leave the church because their need for nurturing relationships and mentorship is not met.
The need for mentorship in the South Leeward Conference is great. The local church has competent and spiritual youth that can do an exceptional work once trained and encouraged. Opportunities need to be created for the youth to be trained, so that they can begin to lead now. In the book, “Education” (pg. 271), Ellen White posits:
With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior might be carried to the whole world!
The Pass It On initiative is one way to mentor the youth of the church and position them for the great task that lies ahead. Mentoring others may also contribute greatly to faith building in the church and is vital to discipleship. In addition, mentorship does not only help the mentees, but also strengthens and affirms the faith experience of the mentors.