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The Vital Connection: Pastor Scott and Colleen McKirdy discuss reaching young adults


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Every Sunday night, Pastor Scott McKirdy, who serves at Spearfish United Methodist Church, and his wife Colleen, host Black Hills State University students at their home for supper, games, and conversations. In this episode of The Vital Connection, the McKirdys share the importance of young adult ministry and what they have learned about working with this age group. 

It is all about relationships. Scott and Colleen discovered that the easiest way to be in ministry with young adults is to build relationships. They build relationships by inviting the students they meet to come over for supper, games, and conversation. Students will ask their friends and roommates, and it takes off from there. Scott and Colleen feel they are the surrogate parents for students away from home. “My passion for ministry with students originated out of parenting. Your kids are my kids. You begin adopting kids. It is just so much fun,” says Scott. The students will share things with the McKirdys that they don’t share with their parents or peers, because it is a safe place for them. Colleen shares, “It is a one-on-one relationship where I can listen and be there for them.”

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Black Hills State University students enjoy a Korean meal at the McKirdy home. Photo courtesy of Spearfish UMC.

Invite students from the college campus to the church. Often it is difficult to get young adults, or people of any age, to walk into a church if they are not somehow connected. Hosting supper at their house is a first step the McKirdys take. Supper can help to get young people comfortable and feel invited to get involved. “We have a very difficult time engaging them in worship, but we have an easy time engaging them at supper,” says Scott, “The objective is not for us to be up on campus; it’s to get them involved in the life of an intergenerational church.” The way to get them into the church is not to get them in the pew, but to get them involved in the church somehow. It may be singing in the choir, helping with the youth group, children’s ministry, or mission trips. Invest, as a congregation, in young adults. 

Invest, as a congregation, in young adults. Intergenerational unity and relationships built across all generations are a significant part of church health. Pastor Scott and Colleen, as well as the Spearfish congregation, are passionate about raising up the next generation of leaders and investing in youth and young adults. Throughout the last five years, the Spearfish church has hosted four Elisha interns, all of which have pursued their own form of ministry once their internship ended.

Tips to get going with your own young adult ministry. Are you interested in starting a young adult or college ministry, but don’t know where to begin? The McKirdys share some insight to help you get started:
1) Start with one individual. You don’t have to start with a large group. Think about one college student or young adult that you could invest in. What is something obvious that you can do to reach out and invite someone? What is something you would naturally go to or be interested in?
2) You do not need to be the pastor to lead a young adult ministry. Find people who have a passion for working with that age group.
3) Have fun and make it about building relationships, not about fulfilling an agenda. Do not set high expectations, but live with them in the moment, reaching them where they are.
4) You don’t have to have a college in your town to have a young adult ministry. Every city and every church has teens and twenty-somethings that are in need of ministry.

Apply for a young adult and campus ministry grant through the Breakthrough Ministry grant process. The application deadline for the next quarter is January 31, 2019.

Encourage a college student who has completed at least one year of college for an Elisha internship. Applications are due March 1, 2019.  


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