Why is it so hard to engage young men with church or, for that matter, religion in general? This question haunts most men’s ministries leaders across the North American Division (NAD). When Seventh-day Adventist millennial males are asked, they give several reasons for their lack of participation. One is that the material presented isn’t interesting or isn’t what they really want to discuss. Another is that they see men’s groups as being a pancake breakfast or maybe a building project, but they don’t want to sit around a campfire sharing their feelings and singing “Kumbaya.”
According to Marty Miller, co-founder of Blueprint for Men, a men’s ministry based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, “Trees grow taller, stronger, and straighter in a forest than on their own in the middle of a field.” Men need each other in order to grow strong spiritually. On their own, they are likely to have a rather “wind-twisted” life.
Courtney Herod, associate communication director for the Carolina Conference, began looking at podcasts as a way to reach out to this demographic. A trend in secular podcasts for young men is to deal with topics they are struggling with in a straightforward manner. However, these popular podcasts are missing a biblical, or even spiritual, foundation. Young men in Adventist churches are dealing with the same issues, but often their pain is ignored or dismissed.
This urgent need sparked the idea to create a men’s podcast show with a spiritual emphasis, which would be relevant to the unchurched as well. The director of men’s ministries for the Conference, Tony LaPorte, jumped on board. The next step was finding a young man to host the show who could connect with millennials and Gen Z’ers, see the vision for the show, and run with it. The associate pastor of the Arden Church, Evan Bujeker, was invited and came on board with lots of ideas.
Thus was born Walking Free, a weekly podcast talk show. Bujeker has lined up guests from all walks of life — pastors, young people, businessmen, Church administration, and media personalities — who have dealt with the same difficult issues that plague today’s young people. Together, Bujeker and his guests are skillfully navigating these tough topics.
As this project continues moving forward, they solicit your prayers that these podcasts reach the young men who need to hear what is being shared. Adventist youth and young adults are not just the future of the Church — they are the NOW.
Carolina | March 2018