March Madness includes three of the most anticipated and talked about weeks each year in the sports world. There are the Cinderella teams. There are the games that go down to the last shot. There are the heartbreaks right beside the joyful celebrations. Everyone has his or her picks (and opinions). And, I also love the fans! The excited fans watching their team pull an upset and the fans deeply saddened by a loss are both noteworthy. Fans love their teams. They never give up on them and will be their biggest advocates, even when others don’t see the possibilities.
As young adult ministry leaders, we’re no different. We are those kinds of fans to the young adults in our church and in our communities. We are the ones who see the possibilities and will stand until the end to cheer them on as they seek to follow Christ.
Here are three reasons it’s important for us to understand our roles as fans in young adult ministry.
1. Young adults need to know that someone believes in them.
There are trends and characteristics about young adults that excite me immensely. However, young adults need to hear from those of us a little further along the journey that we believe in them and desire to see them succeed. Will they do things exactly the way we “think” they should be done? Probably not. But, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong—it’s just different. God has incredible opportunities for young adults, and sometimes, they need to hear that “they can do it” from others.
Paul reminds us, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing” (I Thessalonians 5:11, CSB).
2. Young adults need others around them when things don’t go as planned.
There are going to be job interviews that result in a “Thanks, but you’re not the person for the job.” There will be relationships that don’t work and end in confusion. There will be decisions made by others that deeply affect the lives of the young adults involved. Disappointment will make its way into the lives of young adults whom we journey with in our communities, and they need to know that we are still their biggest fans. There will be real pain and wounds that may go deep.
Young adults need to be reminded that circumstances never change their identity in Christ. In the middle of the disappointment, we get to be right there with them and grieve alongside them. When the next opportunity comes along, we will be there to cheer them on again.
Galatians 6:2 reminds us to “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (CSB).
3. The season is long, and young adults need to keep perspective.
Young adults need to know that you’re in this for the long haul. Young adulthood will take them through the college years, young professionalism, and possibly the beginnings of family life. Life is not easy. As young adult ministry leaders, we can be intentional about investment into the lives of those whom God has brought into our journey.
Romans 15:5 is a simple reminder of this commitment: “Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus.”
There is something truly extraordinary about being a fan of a special team. For those of us who love young adults, being genuine and sincere will go a long way for them to know that we’re “wearing their colors” and cheering them on in the ups and downs of their journey.
Mark Whitt is a collegiate minister with Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Connect with Mark via Twitter.