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Millennials want ‘more than church as usual’

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Activate Bermuda: Kezia Furbert, left, Stacey Pitcher, Keitha Caines, Shanay Scott, Carla George, Vanessa Scott and Rasheeda Burgess. Missing members are Gloria Burgess, Courtney Smith, Antonia Lee, Joan Simmons, Kayla Dowling (Photograph supplied)

Millennials do a lot of things differently: most of their shopping takes place online, they’re obsessed with social media and they value experiences over material possessions.

Rasheeda Burgess thinks it’s the same when it comes to the way they worship.

“The people I meet go to church on Saturdays or Sundays but in my discussions with them they are longing for something more,” said the 31-year-old chairwoman of a new Christian ministry, Activate Bermuda.

“For them it’s not about a specific religious denomination, but rather the collective power of the body of Christ and unity.

“I’ve spoken before on what motivates and drives millennials and how parents or church leaders can help this generation be all that God has called them to be. What I’ve found is millennials have many good traits — they are creative and love relationships.

“However, one area they struggle with is authority and that becomes a stumbling block with young people in the church. This generation isn’t about hierarchy and authority figures by title. They are more likely to have respect for a pastor or leader if they have a relationship with them, rather than out of obligation.”

Activate Bermuda, which is open to males and females, is made up of 14 key members ranging in age from their mid-twenties to thirties. Its launch coincides with a three-day event, the Young Adult and Leadership Summit, filled with “fun, engaging, informative and liberating” activities and educational sessions.

“We see that most times churches try to offer things for young adults without much of our involvement,” Ms Burgess said. “With Activate Bermuda, young adults from all different Christian denominations across the island are driving the conversation.

“No matter if you’re from [an Adventist], AME or Catholic background, we’re coming together to worship and develop a direct connection with God. Our hope is to show young people they’re not alone. There are many others in our age range serving God and seeking to bring Him glory.”

With both of her parents pastors, Ms Burgess was raised in the church and has frequently been invited to preach and sit on panel discussions targeting youths and young adults. Having witnessed that they are “hungry for more than church as usual” she believes God can use millennials in a new way to represent Him.

“Believers in this age range tend to see God as a loving Father — one who is caring and very much interested in having an intimate relationship with them.

“I feel this shift is a good one, built on heart connection rather than just behaviour modification,” she said.

Activate Bermuda formed after Ms Burgess and other people her age began talking about how to involve more young people in Christianity.

“God began to show me other people with a vision of awakening young adults and we decided to create a space for them to worship and awaken their hunger and thirst for God,” she said.

“Activate Bermuda was born out of that. We formalised who we were and began meeting actively in early February. More people caught on to what we were doing and wanted to be a part of the ministry, so we formalised the team and the roles to ensure the summit is well executed.”

The Young Adult & Leadership Summit kicks off on Friday at 6.30pm at the Berkeley Institute and continues all day Saturday, from 7am. Sunday’s events start at 6.30pm. Early bird tickets are $50 and must be bought today — www.activatebermuda.com. Tickets will also be sold at the door. Look for Activate Bermuda on Facebook

Rasheeda Burgess is the chairwoman of Activate Bermuda, a new Christian ministry aimed at millennials (File photograph)