Adventist Young Professionals President Addresses Youth and Young Adult Leaders from Across NAD
Adventist Young Professionals (AYP) President, Tim Kosaka, visited the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD) on February 28, 2023, to address youth and young adult leaders during the 2023 Youth and Young Adult Advisory meetings of the NAD Youth and Young Adult Department.
In attendance, were youth and young adult department leaders from the NAD’s conferences and unions, as well as an array of local church pastors and young adults involved in youth and young adult ministry. Pastor Tracy Wood, NAD Youth and Young Adult Director, introduced Kosaka and the AYP ministry, noting that while AYP is not an official entity of the Adventist Church, a strong relationship – built on trust – has developed and has enabled conversations and collaboration to develop between AYP and the NAD, its unions, and conferences.
Over the past year, Kosaka has met with many of those in attendance – hosting conversations with leaders from over 40 NAD conferences and unions, as well as youth department leaders from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Southern Asia Pacific Division, Trans-European Division, and Chinese Union Mission. Kosaka shared how he has learned so much through these conversations and has appreciated the mentorship he is receiving from so many of those in attendance.
Committed to Collaboration
As he began speaking about the state of AYP, Kosaka reiterated the organization’s focus of uniting, engaging, and inspiring Adventist young people to glorify God. He emphasized AYP’s emphasis of fostering Christ-centered community for young adults in that transition between college, career, and parenthood.
“We value a collaborative ministry approach where we support the strategies of our church entities and ultimately are focused on increasing young adult’s engagement in their local Adventist churches,” shared Kosaka. “AYP is blessed with a large grassroots reach, and as such, we want to use this opportunity to support our denomination in reaching souls for the Kingdom!”
Kosaka shared that AYP is reaching Adventists and non-Adventists alike. He emphasized that while community is key in ministry, AYP is not meant to be a place for young professionals to get comfortable, but is meant to be a funnel and catalyst that engages young professionals for missions in their local churches and throughout their spheres of influence.
Thrive: Ministry Over the Past Year
Over the 2022-2023 year, AYP’s theme and focus has been “Thrive: The Next Level”. Kosaka shared that the organization has focused on helping AYPers to thrive to the next level: personally, spiritually, and professionally – as disciples of Jesus and as disciple makers for Jesus. He shared that the organization has seen unparalleled growth, with a community that started in 2019 now serving 7,000 people from six continents. He also shared that over 50 young adults now volunteer on an ongoing basis with AYP, giving over 10,000 volunteer hours per year.
Kosaka shared that from a programming perspective, AYP continues to “innovate and globally connect young professionals virtually through groups as well as our online social network – elements that were key during the pandemic.” He added that this past year, the “focus has expanded to collaborating with conferences and churches to establish local in-person AYP chapters that bring young professionals together from across a city’s many churches and that create a space for in-reach and outreach to co-exist.”
AYP currently has 15 chapters across the United States. These chapters strive to work together with local church pastors and conference youth directors and to support conferences’ local strategies. Kosaka shared that “chapters generally do this by hosting a monthly gathering or missional project that helps fill a gap.” He added that these chapters “support the existing church and conference projects and events throughout the rest of the month and that AYP’s community calendar helps to communicate churches young adult initiatives with both Adventists and non-Adventists alike. Kosaka brought this into perspective by sharing the story of Angie, a non-Adventist young professional who learned about Adventism and found a supportive Adventist family through AYP.
Shifting the conversation from community to discipleship, Kosaka shared how AYP is working to provide missional training. He shared that over the past year, AYP has expanded its blog with new perspectives, practical topics, relevant tips. The ministry has also launched Conversation Column to help young professionals lead Christ-focused discussions over topics relevant to young professionals. Mentorship connections for team members has helped them grow through the life experience of others and this summer, the 3rd annual AYP Convention will wrap the Thrive theme through a weekend headlined by Oregon Conference Young Adult Director, Benjamin Lundquist.
Cultivate: A Vision for the Year Ahead
Kosaka shared how humbled he has been, seeing the unparalleled growth and blessings God has provided AYP over the past few years. He shared that the AYP leadership team is in the process of planning for the year ahead and seeks to continue following God’s plans through its 2023-2024 focus: “Cultivate: Rhythms of Christ”.
An area of focus in the year ahead is missions. AYP recently established the role of assistant to the president for mission and has also welcomed a chaplain to facilitate spiritual care for team members. The organization is planning its first mission trip for fall 2023 in California. Additional areas of focus in the year ahead include expanding resources offered by the ministry as well as continuing to partner with conferences across the NAD in eventually establishing chapters in every major metropolitan area across North America.
Focusing on keychain leadership and empowerment, Kosaka shared that cultivating leaders is also an emphasis on the year ahead. “We want to focus on the concept of keychain leadership where our young professional leaders are training, equipping and most importantly, empowering the next generation to Thrive and ultimately to eventually take their place as God calls our existing leaders to other areas of ministry.”
An AYP advisory will be established in the coming months to provide conference, union, and division youth and young adult ministry leaders with an official platform to share perspective and ideas that will ultimately shape the plans and future of the lay-led ministry.
Invitation to Partner Together in Mission
Wrapping his remarks, Kosaka invited the attendees to keep AYP in their prayers, he also asked them to stay in touch and to share their ideas, needs, and feedback. Kosaka requested that leaders introduce pastors, mentors, and young adults within their territory to the ministry and asked them to consider stopping by an AYP gathering in the future so AYPers might gain a stronger grasp of the work of their denomination leaders and departments. Kosaka concluded by thanking attendees for their prayers and support and invited them to continue collaborating as they return to their territories, “supporting young people for Jesus Together in Mission!”