Young Adults are Leading Us

by Sarah McCormick, Director of Leadership Development
Project Transformation Tennessee

Young adults are listening to the needs in their communities and moving to action.  And they’ve been doing it for decades.  They were active in the Civil Rights movement, they are active in immigration reform, and they are speaking loudly now about school shootings.  They have much to say and we are listening.

They often don’t wait for the rest of us to catch up, they just act.  They don’t wait for a committee’s approval, a Bishop’s blessing, or a community’s support.  They are filled with excitement and eagerness to see issues solved – and they’re willing to get their hands and feet dirty to be part of the solution.

Project Transformation has engaged more than 200 young adults in hands-on ministry over the past 6 years in the Tennessee and Memphis conferences.  These young adults are helping to open spaces for churches to connect with their neighbors, spaces for multi-generational relationships to form, and spaces for ministry to thrive.  They are leading us into new relationships and new forms of ministry.

In our conferences and in the larger United Methodist Church connection, clergy are aging, the future of our church’s structure is unknown, and churches are struggling to engage young people in authentic community.  It is important to name and lament these things. And then we must move from lamentation to hope, and from hope to action.

Our young adults will lead well, as long as we continue to provide spaces to learn from and with them.  The church is meant to be a place where we discover who we are, in relationship with God and each other.  The Church is also a place where we can encourage and name gifts in each other, in order to change the world.  That’s what vocation is – discovering our most authentic selves while listening for God’s invitation to make our greatest contribution to the world.  Our churches – our conferences – are fertile ground in which we are raising up young leaders, while helping them to be firmly grounded in faith and community.

This summer will be no different at Project Transformation.  Once again, we will have an open invitation to engage with 92 young adults who are seeking conversation about life and vocation. We will learn from these emerging young leaders as they pour out their hearts and invest their time and talents into our churches.  It’s our task to journey alongside them, encouraging them to show us how God is at work.  It’s also our task to listen to them and name gifts in them that will further enable them to discern who God is calling them to be in the world.  These mutual relationships empower us to encounter God and each other in new ways, and lead us into new ways of being the church.

Do you know of a young adult who is discerning a call to ministry and service? Call them today. Share with them the opportunity to serve with Project Transformation this summer. Applications are due March 1. More information can be found at