The Journey to Adulthood (J2A) is a complete youth ministry program of spiritual formation for 6th-12th grades. It encourages relational ministry and uses Bible study, prayer, rites of passage, outreach ministries and various activities to underscore the guiding principles of the program. St. Mark’s youth program has utilized the J2A program since 2007. We have “graduated” four groups of YAC leaders since that time, and these youth will surely tell you that the program was an important part of their middle and high school years at St. Mark’s.
There are three two-year segments included in the program: Rite-13: The first two years of the program (Grades 6-7 or 7-8) are called Rite-13, a name that comes from a liturgical rite of passage we celebrate with the young people around their 13th birthday. This rite is loosely based on the bar/bat mitzvah tradition and is a way for the entire congregation to celebrate the unique gifts and abilities of their young men and women. The Rite-13 program assists young people as they begin to take the first steps of independence from their families into their own lives.
J2A: The next segment (Grades 8-9 or 9-10) helps teens create and understand the importance of Christian community as they develop critical thinking and other skills they will need in adulthood. This section was the first piece developed and many young people find that the bulk of their formational work gets done in these two years. In many ways, the J2A years are the heart of the entire program. The end of J2A is marked with a spiritual pilgrimage that is often a life-changing experience for the group.
YAC: This program (Young Adults in Church) helps older teens (11th and 12th graders) discern and carry out a ministry within their church or in the larger community. This last phase encourages older youth to take on more adult responsibilities both in their church and in their community. They are challenged to become good stewards of their time, talent and treasure.