The Young Adult’s Burden

I’m a millennial, and my friends and I like to talk about Adventism. A lot of conversations are positive, while others are more critical. When we discuss our church’s weaknesses, my peers and I usually circle around a few recurring frustrations: judgmental church members, closed-mindedness, sexism, racism, and selfishness. In my experiences, these conversations often pin the blame for these issues on one specific demographic: older church members.

A lot of young adults have had frustrating experiences with “the grown-ups.” We feel judged and misunderstood; we see deficiencies in our leaders and bristle at their hypocrisy. However, I believe it’s hasty to assume our church’s issues stem exclusively from out-of-touch older members. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a complex body, and the viruses and diseases it suffers from don’t all come from one germ.

Three years ago, I realized that sometimes young people are the frustrating ones to work with. It was a Sabbath service during camp meeting, and the speaker was sharing her struggles with leading young adult ministries. “I try to work with you guys — we try to work with you,” she said, “but sometimes it’s hard. We want to understand you, but it’s not always easy.” By that time, I had grown out of believing that older members were always “the bad guys,” but during that sermon, I recognized that my generation could also play the antagonist. The pastor had been hurt by young adults who were stubborn and inflexible, and she had been repeatedly misunderstood and rebuffed.

In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul says, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” I, along with many young adults, love this passage because it is empowering. Paul encourages Timothy to embrace his youth despite the opposition he faces. However, I think my peers and I can become so focused on the first part of this verse, not being despised for our youth, that we forget about the second half of it, setting an example.

It’s easy for young people to fall into the rut of shallow criticism. Many highlight the flaws in the church, but few address these flaws with action. We denounce irresponsible church leaders, but we hesitate to accept or pursue responsibility and leadership for ourselves. On page 536 of Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, Ellen White poses the following dilemma: “Those who are older must educate the youth, by precept and example, to discharge the claims that society and their Maker have upon them. Upon these youth must be laid grave responsibilities. The question is, Are they capable of governing themselves, and standing forth in the purity of their God-given manhood [or womanhood], abhorring everything that savors of wickedness?”

During that camp meeting service, the pastor touched on the same tension Ellen White addresses in this passage. Church leadership must be shared, and my generation needs to accept leadership just as much as the older generation needs to encourage it. In this church, there is not one-way responsibility. Sole duty for the direction of our communities does not lie with the older members or the younger ones; it is shared between us. If our church is to endure tribulation and spread the Gospel, if we are to be a united body, then we must be responsible with our responsibilities and acknowledge our duties, even when they are burdensome. The young adult’s burden is to accept responsibility for our church’s future, and the older generation’s is to allow us to do so.

Brandon Beneche is a recent graduate from Southern Adventist University and a newly employed middle school teacher.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

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Thank-you, Brandon. I think there are so many variations in both young and old people and those in between. I’ve been fortunate to spend most of my adult life around people (most of them) who are mostly non-judgmental, but I grew up with some people who were fairly certain there were only a few right actions and lots of wrong ones for Adventists.

I’m glad you are realizing the variety in how people in, and out, of the church behave toward each other and the responsibilities we all have to make the church all it can be, regardless of how some act.


Mentoring is NOT high on the list of things to do in most SDA churches.
The Apostle Paul was HIGH on mentoring believers.


When I was in college, I thought that once my generation takes the reigns of leadership we would finally get on the right track - do away with the grey suit hierarchal arrogance and “get real”. Decades later I see my classmates wearing those grey suits and all the rigamarole that goes with them. If anything, it’s been getting worse - or is it that I’m more aware. When the ideologues enter the work force, they put on the suits and follow the dotted line just like their predecessors. The more education, the higher we climb; and the more defensive we become. The young have the freedom to follow their hearts. That freedom is feared by all establishments because it disturbs security - of both, job and faith.


Interesting observation. Some people give up their dreams when faced with the reality of work, family, and responsibility. Very few have the finances and ability to follow their dreams. Like it or not we model our parents, right or wrong, even when we think we are rebelling. I was just reading that the executive part of the brain really does not mature/develop until the early or mid 20s for most of us. This is reason to be wary of putting too much on youth. I can personally attest to that for myself.

A great article that gives us hope for the future–a very mature-sounding individual who can be objective.

That explains why most SDA youth - those who grow up Adventist -are encouraged to get baptized in their early teens?


It’s worse…many times it’s even before becoming a teenager or just barely a teen. :rage:

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I’ve mentioned this before - my husband thought he had to be baptized to pass sixth grade. It appears the great youth exodus happens when the “executive” part of the brain kicks in.



On the day of baptism when the child will be examined publicly, ask the pastor to use the “Simplified Baptismal Vows.” by Steve Case. This is easier for the child to understand the vows as he or she makes a commitment.


  1. I believe in God the Father; in His Son, Jesus Christ; and in the Holy Spirit.
  2. I accept the death of Jesus to pay for my sins.
  3. I accept the new heart Jesus gives me in place of my sinful heart.
  4. I believe that Jesus is in heaven as my best friend and that He gives me the Holy Spirit so I can obey Him.
  5. I believe God gave me the Bible as my most important guidebook.
  6. By God living in me, I want to obey the Ten Commandments, which include the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath.
  7. I want to help as many people as possible to be ready for the soon coming of Jesus.
  8. I believe God gives special abilities to His people, and that the Spirit of Prophecy is given to His chosen people.
  9. I want to help God’s church with my influence, effort, and money.
  10. I want to take good care of my body because the Holy Spirit lives there now.
  11. With God’s power, I want to obey the basic principles of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
  12. I want to be baptized to show people I am a Christian.
  13. I want to be a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and I believe this church has a special message to give to the world.

From what I’ve found, kids can be baptized by at least age 8.

All thoughts welcome regarding age, and the “Simplified Baptismal Vows”.

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Re: Baptism by age 13.
Quite a few years ago the Baptist church did a large study.
It found that a youth needs to be baptized by age 13.
If a person is allowed to wait until after 20 years of age, it is VERY
LIKELY they WILL NOT ask for baptism. And will have limited ties
to church and church attendance. Will NOT make a declaration to
become a Christian through the Baptismal event.

the Study did find that is a person drops out after being baptized,
the chances of returning to church when older has a high rate of

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