Over the course of the last two months, young adult leaders from Texas Baptist churches have shared reflections through an online series called “20 Things We Learned in 2020.” The series culminated on Sunday, Nov. 15, with the Texas Baptists Annual Meeting Devoted Young Adult Rally, where leaders shared about biblical responses to escapism, racial reconciliation and politicization.
During the rally, which was streamed on Facebook live and the Texas Baptists website, Jonathan Pokluda, pastor of Harris Creek Baptist Church in Waco, discussed biblical approaches to the three areas, which many millennials have struggled with in the midst of the challenges of 2020. Ten watch parties were hosted around the state for young adults to gather together and watch the rally, followed by a time of discussion afterward.
Session one opened with a video from Kaitlyn Anderson, a student at Truett Seminary, on the topic of escapism. Anderson shared that often millennials have a tendency towards escapism and a desire to flee from silence, negativity and pressure. She talked about the rising mental health needs among teens and young adults.
After deleting apps that allowed for escapism and binging, Anderson discovered that “there in the stillness and heaviness was Jesus.”
“We are called out of binge culture and escapism, and then we are comforted by the fact that our God is right in the middle of it, calling us to come alongside him and advocating for the Gospel and everybody’s place in it,” she said.
Pokluda also addressed escapism and how the millennial generation often tries to escape from the challenges and hardships faced in this world.
“When we feel that, it’s a reminder to me that we weren’t made for this world,” Pokluda said. “He’s made for us another world, a Kingdom. And He calls us to set our minds on the things above.”
Pokluda referred to Jesus’ teaching in John 16 that said in the world there will be trouble, but that He will overcome the world.
The solution to escapism is to lean into the church and be surrounded by the body of believers, Pokluda shared. He also encouraged young adults to press into the scripture, to seek the Lord and to renew their minds around the fact that one day, believers will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Kingsley Demakpor, associate student pastor at the Heights Church in Richardson, shared about racial reconciliation in a short 2-minute video.
Demakpor began by giving a definition of racism as “placing the value of one race over another.”
“It is not just a social issue, it’s a Gospel issue, because it is at the very heart of the teaching of the Gospel in saying that God wants to reconcile all things through Christ,” Demakpor said. “As believers, we don’t shy away from the topic of racism, but we embrace it as a Gospel issue realizing that God wants to work through us to bring peace to our society.”
He described how Jesus was a person who transcended boundaries and asked the question, “In your life, in your church, do you have a faith that transcends boundaries?”
Pokluda then addressed the young adult group, sharing from Mark 10 about how Jesus, the son of man, did not come to be served but to serve.
“What I see in the life of Jesus is how amazing he was at empathizing with others. I think that’s an opportunity to lean into others to ask questions,” he said.
Drawing from 1 Corinthians 9, Pokluda shared about how Paul encouraged believers to become all things to all people that they might win some for Christ.
“There’s an exhortation in the scripture to learn from those that we are around, to become like them so that we can minister to them,” Pokluda said.
Pokluda went on to share that ministry could be a number of things such as helping others to heal, be a bridge, build a bridge, and to reconcile.
“Reconciliation is core to what it means to be a follower of Jesus,” he said. “Reconciliation is really putting the pieces together.”
In the final session of the evening, Matt Thigpen, a young adult pastor in Austin, shared about the politicization of many topics in American culture over the last year.
“The Church should have always been known solely as a people about Jesus, so when everything becomes a political issue we find ourselves fighting and disagreeing, getting in arguments about stuff that we were never meant to,” Thigpen said.
Drawing from James 1:19, Thigpen encouraged young adults to truly seek to listen to those around them and to be slow to respond without drawing assumptions on the thoughts of others.
“I have this hope for the church that more than anything else we would be known for our love for Jesus,” he said.
Pokluda then shared, “Our identity has to be, first and foremost, beginning and end, identified with Christ.”
Rather than a connection to a political party or another affiliation, believers should be known for their love and Jesus Christ. Pokluda pointed to Joshua 1:9 and shared that he wants his household to be known for serving the Lord.
“We have to think, engage our minds, pray, seek the Lord and at the end of the day based upon what we know about God and his values, move forward,” he said.
During the rally, the Dallas Baptist University worship band premiered a cover of the song “How great is your love.” The Pastors Common, a network of pastors in their 20s and 30s, was also highlighted. For more information, contact David Miranda at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the Devoted Facebook page.