Walking the Journey Together:
Our Young Adult Community Group
by Dale Reeves
Yesterday at Christ’s Church we began a new teaching series entitled, “Relationships Work.” We’ve been talking a lot about our need for community in our church this year. For a follower of Christ, community is not an option—it is a necessity. It is the lifeblood of discipleship because we help one another grow more like Christ by challenging and encouraging one another. None of us can do this alone. And, just because we are currently living in a world of “social distancing” does not mean we have to live in “social isolation.” Our Father God created us for relationship with him and with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
One of the community groups at Christ’s Church that is constantly discovering what it means to grow in relationship with one another and with Christ is our young adult group that is facilitated by John and Katy Broekema. John and Katy have been working with this group for over two years. What began as a “Rooted” ten-week discipleship experience grew into a weekly group meeting.
John comments, “With two grown kids of our own, we realized there was a gap between when teenagers graduate from high school and move onto college or join the adult work world. Both of our kids found great spiritual communities at Ohio U and UC that helped them transition into college and adulthood. We saw a need for the young adults in our church to have a place to plug into as well.”
The young adult group ranges in age from 20-29 with varied backgrounds both personally and in their faith journeys. Some of them have graduated from college, some are still attending, some are already working in the trades, and some are still trying to figure it out.
It is the sense of community that unites this group and is a reason they are still going strong after almost three years. Katy comments, “We do study the Bible, but we also discuss our real-life problems and issues. We know that laughter is a great medicine, and we do a lot of that in our group. We also love watching our group members support each other. They don’t hesitate to share specific prayer requests with each other, which we talk about every week.”
John adds, “Knowing they are not alone makes a huge difference in our group. We all have struggles, and being able to walk through those in a safe environment is key for this group. It takes honesty to lead a group like this one. You’d better be willing to share your struggles if you expect them to do the same. Their commitment to God’s Word, their desire to grow in faith, and their willingness to share inspire us every week.”
Working Out Their Faith
Jesus says that if we obey his commands, if we do what he commands us to do, that’s how we show that we love him (see John 14:15-17). He makes it very clear that love is more than an emotion—it is an active verb. Later in that same chapter, Jesus continued, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me” (John 14:23, 24, NIV).
John confesses, “Obedience to Christ is a struggle we all deal with. The lure of the world constantly draws us away from the focus we should have on Christ. We see that play out in many ways in our group: work and school demands, life choices, and simply making time for Christ in our lives.”
Katy adds, “John and I try to hold ourselves to a higher standard, so that the young adults in our group will see that you don’t have to remain who you are in your 20s. What we have done or what we are doing is not who we are, but because of their love for each other, wanting what is best for everybody, our group members aren’t afraid to call each other out—encouraging each other to do the right thing vs remaining stuck in the same sins.”
John states, “Seeing the world through the eyes of this generation is definitely challenging. Some of their struggles are similar to the difficulties we faced at that age and some are completely different. Sometimes it’s hard not to be a ‘parent’ in their situations, but I believe it is primarily our job to create a safe space for them in which they can work out their faith.”
Walking Some Tough Roads
Being in community with others isn’t always easy. The peaks and valleys of life reveal themselves in different ways. This group, along with every other group I know, had to find a new rhythm during 2020 as a result of COVID-19. Katy says, “We tried meeting with our group through Zoom, and they were not fans of it. As soon as we were able, we began meeting in person again. We have lost a few members and picked up a few new members. We discovered that with our group when things are rough sometimes it’s easier for them not to attend. But those are the times when we encourage them (with some positive peer pressure) to come back to group.”
John explains, “We’ve been through a lot with this group. We have seen group members get married, move away, and have kids. Others have struggled with balancing their jobs with their faith life. Many of them have been open about the struggles they face in life and the choices they have made. We view all of that as teaching points and opportunities for us to listen, encourage, and pray over them.”
Katy speaks about the inspiration they get from their young adult group: “Facilitating this group has forced John and me to be in God’s Word on a regular basis. We are inspired by the faith and love in Christ we see in them every week. Their desire to grow in their relationship with Christ is evidenced by the questions they ask and the thoughtful comments they make.”
Sharing the Love
Jon Tyson, lead pastor of Church of the City New York, has said: “A disciple is someone who is learning to think, to live, and love like Jesus.”
Anything worth learning is worth working for. When Katy reflects on the process of discipleship she sees taking place in the lives of these young adults, she observes, “Learning is a lifelong process, and we have seen members of our group struggle in their faith, struggle with whether or not Christ is with them. When that has happened, we have seen the other members lift that person up through words shared about their own experiences. Our group members truly love and care about one another.”
John concludes, “Jesus taught us to love one another just as he loved us. That’s a big ask, but we see it take place every Tuesday night. Whether that means respecting another’s opinion, lifting a person up in a time of struggle, or holding each other accountable for their actions, it’s all part of the discipleship process. This group truly demonstrates a love for those around them.”
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34, 35, NIV).
Know a young adult who would like to get plugged into this community of followers of Christ? You can get more info and sign up HERE.