Welcome to the story behind Journey to the Table, a new program ministry from The Upper Room. For over a year, we’ve been including more people in this story. Now we welcome you to join us too.
In March of 2014, The Upper Room started a new position in “Young Adult Spiritual Development.” It was a decent enough title for a ministry that, at that point, had no name. The idea was to evaluate, revise, and started a new ministry program if necessary to reach out to a young adult audience. Emmaus Ministries already had programs developed intentionally for teen-aged youth and more established adults, and was launching a new program for older adults. So it made sense to start in that family of ministries. I started in the position and spent a few months researching the topic: what percentage are young adults in the existing ministries, when were these created, by whom, intended for whom, what research exists about the millennial generation and spirituality, church, or marketing, who, or what ministries are reaching this age group and what makes them effective. The more people I heard from, and the more learned about the foundation of our existing ministries, the more I was convinced that we needed something new – something designed intentionally for my peers. In June of 2014 we started receiving recommendations for people that could help design something new. I had a few thoughts about what that could be, but I wanted a variety of experience and opinions involved in this project. Fortunately, The Upper Room has put the resources and support behind this project to make it a reality. By August, this idea to have a variety of influences became a more structured Steering Team. The first five leaders of the Steering Team met at The Upper Room office in Nashville, Tennessee for a busy three-day weekend. I tried to be honest with them about the work I had defined for the group. I remember telling several of them that although I wished they could see more of Nashville, I knew we had enough work to fill more than the three days we had. So we spent almost all of our time together talking about the people we hoped to reach, the foundations of existing programs, and what our new ministry could be. That meant a lot of time sitting across from each other in a meeting room, over meals, late nights, and (mercifully) not too early of mornings. By the end of those three days, we had a clear understanding of what we wanted the ministry to be. Each of the five leaders took leadership of one subject area we defined and recruited others to help write the material for the program in that subject. From then on, our work was able to be done in web conferences. Countless virtual meetings later, we finished the first draft of the program in March of 2015. It took a total of 19 people, in five different teams, an average of ten web conferences each to develop 104 pages of content that we believed made a program that could minister with our young adult peers well. We reached that point as quickly as we could with the best first draft we could write. We knew then that it wasn’t perfect, but we were ready to see how it worked with real people. Meanwhile, I was recruiting test locations to be the people who tried the program for the first time. In February and March of 2015 I traveled to each test location to orient a few people and prepare them to recruit volunteers and run the program. That’s about where this site picks up the story. On the main page you will find information about Steering Team members, hear some of the story of how the test locations are going, and learn with us as we launch this new program. Feel free to comment on anything you see here. My hope is that this story will encourage you to tell your own. You’re welcome to come along with us as you do.