Young Adult Ministry: ROOTED

When I was in high school, the band Alabama came out with a song titled, I’m In a Hurry.

I’m in a hurry to get things done
 Oh, I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
 But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why

I admittedly had a very short country music phase, but deeper than that embarrassment is the sad fact that the above lyrics described my own thinking during that time of my life. I needed to hurry up and go to college, so I could hurry up and get a good job, and then hurry up and get married, and hurry up and have kids. Looking back, I can’t really understand why I was in such a hurry. Now I don’t say all this because I wish that I had backpacked across Europe to find myself, but I do wish that I had taken a little intentional time to become more rooted.

Colossians 2:6-7 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my home church immensely, including all the teaching and leadership opportunities that were afforded to me. But I wish I’d had more time in training. Looking back, I wish that I wasn’t in such a hurry to “grow up” that I overlooked opportunities to intentionally be rooted and built up.

The word “rooted” has been chosen as the title of a partnership between Tuscarora Inn & Conference Center and the Church of the Lutheran Brethren for the creation of a young adult gap year program. The goal is to give adults of ages 18-25 a place to grow in servanthood, leadership, and a deeper understanding of God’s Word, as well as in their relationship with God himself, as disciples in a community setting.

For too long the narrative dominating high school guidance counseling offices was that you need to go to college, and you need to do it fast. Don’t wait and certainly don’t pause, or you will never finish. But why does that have to be the narrative? Even if your goal in life is to be as professionally established in your career as you can be, why does that need to be the narrative? I especially don’t understand it if your goal in life is to be the best disciple of Jesus Christ that you can possibly be, wherever he ends up leading you in the years to come. If that is your goal, then please consider hitting the pause button for a year and get rooted.

Now the Rooted program is most certainly not a new idea. Less than eight months after the first convention of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren at the start of the 20th century, a man named S.O. Bridston wrote an article, in what was the equivalent of Faith & Fellowship magazine. His article was titled, “Do We Need a Bible School?” His answer in that article was an emphatic, “Yes!” Just a few years later, on November 2, 1903, the Lutheran Brethren Bible School was born, and it trained young men and women in the faith for decades. It later morphed into the “Alpha Way” program and “Lutheran Center for Christian Learning,” but the goal of rooting young adults continued throughout all the manifestations.

In more recent years, IPoint, our Lutheran Brethren camp in Minnesota, established a gap year program on their campus called CheckPoint. So the Rooted program is not new, and it is also not intended to stand alone. The hope is that this program acts as a pilot project and that similar programs develop in different parts of our denomination, all with the goal of rooting and building up young adults in the faith.

So why Tuscarora? The board of Tuscarora has been feeling a pull and making plans in this direction for some time. Prior to the outbreak of COVID, Tuscarora was very close to beginning a trial run of Rooted, but then, like for many things in life, the pause button needed to be pushed. At the same time, a growing number of leaders throughout our denomination were asking the very same question that S.O. Bridston asked over 100 years ago… “Do we need a Bible School?” As these two groups found each other it was clear that a partnership was the perfect solution.

As planning has progressed, the goal is to start in Fall 2023. Students will be living at Tuscarora on a portion of the property that was donated 20 years ago and has been prayed over since that time for God to open a door for it to be used for some new ministry initiative. That property, known as the Pines, includes a 19th-century cottage-like house that gives off the feel of sitting down with great disciples throughout the ages to mull over the incredible character of God, which is exactly what the students in this program will be doing. The goal is not to be in a hurry, or even to be busy, but to intentionally slow down to allow God to mold minds, hearts, and character into exactly what he desires.

For all of us, no matter what our age, God didn’t design us to be in a hurry. Let the band Alabama deal with that problem themselves. As children of God, let us instead learn to be still and know that he is God, and let us allow ourselves the time to be rooted and built up in him so that we can know him, love him, remain in his love, and learn to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Rev. Roger Viksnes is Pastor at Bethany Lutheran Brethren Church in East Hartland, Connecticut.

Now Hiring!

The Rooted leadership team is looking for a program director. If you have a passion to see young adults grow in their faith, and think this position might be right for you, we would love to hear from you.
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