Church ministry broadly has three goals: to help people belong, believe, and become. While young people continue to find value in the church, they increasingly find that they also need their own space in order to thrive in face of the particular challenges of young adulthood and a changing understanding of the meaning of church. Methodists doing new young adult ministry in California have returned to our historical roots to create these spaces, because, let’s face it: John Wesley was a genius. Not only was he a visionary when it came to theology and thinking broadly about God, Wesley was incredibly successful at creating community around the life of the spirit. Open Space is a model of young adult ministry, shared across the Methodist connection, that seeks to utilize Wesley’s community framework to create spaces to invite young adults into a process of spiritual discovery, growth, and belonging.
Monthly Gathering (Society Meeting) – The Monthly Gathering takes place in public space where young adults tend to gather. The most invitational level of activity, the community gathers for non-judgemental conversations about faith and life, following a liturgy with scriptural faith reflection, open conversation, communion, and acts of service as our benediction. This is openly invitational, and accommodates both life-long Christians as well as those who are curious about, but ultimately skeptical of Christianity.
Weekly Bible Study (Class Meeting) – Those from the Monthly Gathering are invited into deeper engagement with Christian discipleship in a weekly Bible Study/Small Group. This group always opens with Wesley’s historic question, “How is it with your soul?” and ends with sharing of prayers. The Bible is engaged with as much invitation as possible, usually approached with a group Lectio Divina process.
The goal of Open Space is to be deeply integrated with local church community. As we seek to create discipleship groups based on the historic band meeting, we will find deeper levels of intergenerational relationships and discipleship, on which the Church thrives. In supportive relationships, with movement towards one another despite our differences, young people can see the church as their community, and worship as their home.