journey to Adulthood
The Journey to Adulthood (J2A) is a complete youth ministry program of spiritual formation for 6th-12th grades. It encourages relational ministry and uses Bible study, prayer, rites of passage, outreach ministries and both serious and playful activities to underscore the two guiding principles of the program: 1) Manhood and womanhood are free gifts from God; and 2) Adulthood must be earned. It includes in-depth exploration of Self, Spirituality, Sexuality and Society.
There are three two-year segments included in the program:
Rite-13: The first two years of the program (Grades 6-7 or 7-8) are called Rite-13, a name that comes from a liturgical rite of passage we celebrate with the young people around their 13th birthday. This rite is loosely based on the bar/bat mitzvah tradition and is a way for the entire congregation to celebrate the unique gifts and abilities of their young men and women. The Rite-13 program assists young people as they begin to take the first steps of independence from their families into their own lives. During these two years, the community acknowledges the gift of gender, celebrates the amazing creative power and potential of these young people, and creates a safe haven in which to explore new ideas, new interests and new abilities.
J2A: The next segment (Grades 8-9 or 9-10) helps teens create and understand the importance of Christian community as they develop critical thinking and other skills they will need in adulthood. This segment is called J2A, an acronym for the Journey to Adulthood. It may seem a little confusing for this second phase to have the same name as the entire six-year program, but this section was the first piece developed and many young people find that the bulk of their formational work gets done in these two years. In many ways, the J2A years are the heart of the entire program. During the J2A phase, teens learn and practice six basic skills for adulthood:
- Active listening
- Research and information management
In addition to the skills listed above, teens learn different methods of Scripture reading, prayer and community-building. After two years, they are acknowledged as being equipped for new levels of responsibility and are given an opportunity to be confirmed (in denominations that have confirmation) The end of J2A is marked with a spiritual pilgrimage that is often a life-changing experience for the group.
Young Adults in the Church (YAC): This mentor-based program helps older teens (11th and 12th graders) discern and carry out a ministry within their church or in the larger community. Vocation and development of a personal credo are also emphasized. This last phase encourages older youth to take on more adult responsibilities both in their church and in their community. They are challenged to become good stewards of their time, talent and treasure. They work on identifying their gifts and commit to a specific ministry that uses those gifts. They study some of the church's ancient creeds and then write their own statement of beliefs. They look back on what they have studied, learned and experienced over the last six years and use that as a basis for their own growing spirituality. A final rite of passage sends them out into the world as ambassadors of Christ.