In the geographical center of Living Water’s Worship Room at 9 AM Sunday service, you will see a microcosm of the future church, and its name is Venture. There you will find John and Shari Holmes, surrounded by an energetic group of 22-30-year-olds; a mixture of single men and women, and married couples with and without children.
In this cross-section of mostly Gen Z’s, you’ll find some of their names in leadership positions, on committees, and on volunteer rosters. You’ll hear them in small groups and instantly pick up their insuppressible passion and counter-cultural conviction that could change the world. Or at least our corner of it.
But they didn’t get here in a vacuum.
A Little Bit of History
In 2013, with Pastor James at the helm, the yet-to-be-named ministry launched as a post-high school support system for students who aged out of Living Water’s student ministry, The Well. These leaders established a Sunday School-type class during 9 AM services while offering social gatherings in leaders’ homes.
As the ministry grew, the dynamics and demographics changed. In 2016, the presiding leadership sensed a need to tweak its mission. That’s when Venture was born.
This rebranded ministry, led by the Venture Leadership Team, favored connection-fostering small groups over Sunday School classes and shifted their focus on the growing number of 22 to 30-year-olds. This shift sparked new energy, and leaders from within the ranks emerged. Many of those small groups continue to this day, even after aging out of Venture.
Since that time, under the mentorship of John and Shari Holmes, Venture has intentionally grown into a well-organized, multi-faceted, Christ-centered community. There are five distinct areas of concentration under the Venture umbrella which are overseen by the Venture Vision Team and is composed of Bible Study Leaders. At the top of the list is Venture Deep which organizes five Bible studies a week to meet the needs of every demographic, usually meeting in leaders’ homes. Second is Venture Together which brings all of the groups together for social events such as tubing in the local creek. Venture Outs' objective is to find community service projects such as Love the Hill. Finally, Ladies of Venture and Venture Guys, meet less often, focusing on events that are specific to their gender and interests.
Shari Holmes emphasized that all of the moving parts of Venture, now in its tenth year, successfully came together because of obedient young adults who took ownership of the group. Pastor James' vision was the launching pad, and under the umbrella of adult ministries, Pastor Ben offered clarity and direction. John and Shari's involvement as mentors has tied it all together.
How Do I Plug In?
First, check out Venture’s calendar at Living Water’s website at the link below and jump in with both feet. It is within these events that you’ll make meaningful connections, and there’s something for everyone. Second, attend the 9 AM service and join the crew sitting in the center of the Worship Room. If you still need directions, just ask one of the friendly greeters on the Welcome Team, and they’ll point you in the right direction. If you have any questions regarding any aspect of Venture, you can contact Evan Alrutz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help! I’m Over 30! How Can I Get Involved?
Remember how I said these kids didn’t get here in a vacuum? All of these Gen Z’s developed their relationship with Christ through other solid Christians and dedicated teachers. Most of Venture’s members are away from their families and home church, starting their lives in the Harrisburg region due to schooling and employment opportunities. What the church can (must?) provide is a sense of community and belonging. That’s where you come in.
Ask yourself what you wish you had known in your twenties, and share your wisdom and experiences with them. Invite them into your home, feed them, and let them hang out with your family. Show them the best hiking trails, local coffee shops, and the best place to get their car serviced. As you get to know them, you will sense where your gifts can be a blessing to them. Finally, there isn’t a better way to build relationships than by hosting an event of any size or (just about) any genre in your home. Not to be confined to just these, think movie night, board game challenge, or outdoor barbeque. Shari Holmes would love to get you started.
And What Does the Bible Say?
The Apostle Paul’s letters are stuffed with instructions on how one generation must care for another that goes beyond widows and orphans. Venture gives us this tangible opportunity to invest in the present and future church through these delightful young adults. I cannot think of a bigger or more enjoyable return on your investment.