Emerge Groups - finding the 'Lost Generation'
One of the uniting features of Rural Ministries partners is their desire for outreach. Many of our partner churches are particularly passionate about working with children and have schools ministries, holiday clubs and youth groups. However, what happens to young Christians when they turn 18? Regular VIBE readers will know that Rural Ministries is currently supporting Adam Jackson as a Rural Evangelist in Norfolk working with young adults from 18 to late 30’s – a group Adam refers to as the “Lost Generation”.
"There is an old saying that coals burn brightly when they are with other coals and go dark and cold when they are taken out. This is the same for Christians." Adam Jackson, Emerge
Many young adults move away from their homes – either to university or for work, often never really to return. They can find themselves separated from the support of their Christian peers and in rural areas it is difficult to make new contacts. For those few who do not move away, there is the same sense of isolation as their friends fly the nest. It is because of this that Emerge has been established across Norfolk and the vision is that none of these young adults will feel they are the only Christian of their age in their area.
Almost by definition, their isolation makes it very difficult to connect with these young adults, the word is nonetheless gradually getting around. Once contact has been made, they can be invited into an Emerge group of which there are currently seven. Every group may be different in its format, but all will have some aspect of teaching and bible study, social times and prayer with people they find it easy to relate to. It is important that these groups have spiritual oversight and each is connected to a local church.
So many rural churches are desperate for younger Christians and could see Emerge groups stealing their lifeblood. However, this is far from being the case. Emerge is very intentional about encouraging young adults to stay at their home churches and live out mission in their villages. When young adults from rural locations connect into small groups, Emerge ensures that the “connected church" knows there is no expectation that anyone needs to leave their home church. The organisers believe that this generation is the hope of the world, and that’s why it is important to keep the younger generation connected and serving their local church whilst also receiving spiritual nourishment elsewhere as well.
On the 2nd – 4th September 2016, Emerge organised a weekend retreat to gather together all the Emerge groups in the region to celebrate God’s goodness and everything He has been doing. It was also a time to meet other young adults in the area and find ways they can do mission together especially in rural locations where mission is often difficult because of too few missionaries sharing a vision.