April / May 2015 - Vol. 79

Legacy Conference 2015
A new Kairos Alumni generation taking initiative

The Legacy Conference
by Michael Shaughnessy

 Edult: those transitioning from adolescence to adulthood,
 A.k.a. twenty-somethings or emerging adults.

There is a new door to mission opening among our Kairos alumni. Although we have had outreaches to edults before, there have not been many. In the past few years we have seen them begin in Grand Rapids, Kansas City, Ann Arbor, St. Paul, Maryland, Lansing, Boston, and Houston, as well as internationally, in Vancouver, Monterrey, and Mexicali. Some have grown quickly. Some are only finding their feet. New ones are beginning this spring.

On January 16-18, 2015, Kairos and the Sword of the Spirit hosted the Legacy Conference for nearly 130 edults from ten different countries. The average age was 26.The conference focused on how God has acted and continues to act on us individually and as a people. Dan Keating spoke on scouting out the land, using Joshua and Caleb as examples of the boldness needed to enter into the new territory the Lord is opening to us. 

Mike Shaughnessy reviewed how the Lord has guided us through prophecy: the call to be a people, a bulwark of communities bound by covenant in the days of trial that are upon us, to be the Sword of the Spirit, to endure testing and receive grace, and lately, to go through the open door for mission, especially one he is opening among young people.

Ryan O’Hara’s theme on Saturday night was choosing greatness not comfort, especially by accepting God’s will when it disagrees with yours.

Sunday was devoted to hearing how the new outreaches began.

The Leadership Summit

Following the Legacy Conference 30 people remained in Ann Arbor for a leadership summit where we discussed what we believed the Lord was doing among edults and how best to respond.


So far, this work has been sudden, messy, and fragile. The Lord often acts suddenly; he raises up people who act with faith and new things begin to happen. Like many new initiatives, an edult outreach can be messy at first.

Who is responsible for its direction? That’s not always clear. Generally it has been those who started it. What is its purpose? Some edult work began just as a social group for those in a community. In other cases it was based on a desire for mission. In yet others it was alumni wanting to have “life after UCO.”

People came: people who had been on the fringe but were now responding to the Lord, people of no faith, and people returning to the faith they had when young but needing a low-key restart. This has made it difficult to define a target audience. Twenty-three-year- -olds? Yes, but some are nearer thirty. Singles? Yes, but young marrieds also come. Alumni? Yes, but they have new friends they are bringing.

How it connects to our other work or the local community also varies from place to place. In most places that also is unclear. This work is also fragile. Will it last? Not without some care to ensure it continues as its leaders move on in life.
There are many factors that contribute to this happening now; foremost is grace. The Lord told us he was going to multiply our work with young people. This is that. Oddly, some other factors are a negative forces at work on edults.

Compared to thirty years ago, today it takes an edult three to five years longer to reach the six sociological markers of adulthood. (These are: finishing formal education, financial independence from one’s parents, starting one’s career, getting married, buying a house and having children.) The transition to adulthood takes double or even triple the amount of time. It is no longer a transition but a stage of life for most people.
It is a very unstable time of life. Everything is in flux: with whom you live and where, where you work, debt, courtship, friends getting married, buying a car or a place to live… The winds of change are constantly blowing.

Many lose their friends when they graduate from university. They scatter back home, or to a new city pursuing a job, or nowhere in particular, while others stay put because they need more time to finish their education. This is a time of life characterized by the desire for lasting relationships but plagued by mobility. One’s social life can dry up overnight.

Delayed adulthood, instability, and loss of relationships create a vacuum and edults want it filled. Put on an event and people will come. Put on a good one and they will come back for more.

Many edults know it is time to get on with life. The juvenile lifestyle is less and less attractive. Partying is losing its luster. Peter Pan is ready to grow up and wants some like-minded peers, ones moving forward with a purpose.

Finally, some factors are positive forces at work among our alumni.

Most teens and university students wrestle with social fear. They do not want to be rejected or lose their friends. That fear declines in edulthood, as they realize they can survive BFF breakdowns. Declining fear makes it easier for Christian edults to be bold, to invite people
to events, especially those who might be socially undernourished.

Our alumni have been getting trained as disciples for several years. They know what needs to be done and are ready to do it. They have grown in confidence as they take jobs where they need to lead. This is a generation eager for mission and taking the initiative.

Michael Shaughnessy Michael Shaughnessy is the Kairos director for the Sword of the Spirit both in North America and Internationally. He is the editor of the Kairos Youth Culture Newsletter (http://www.kairos-na.org/YouthCulture_News). Kairos is an international federation of outreaches to high school, university and post university aged people.
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