In upper Manhattan, the MyGen Seventh-day Adventist Church recently opened its doors for its first official service. Upon entering the church, it becomes immediately apparent that this is not a conventional church. MyGen church is Greater New York Conference’s first Seventh-day Adventist “café church.” Instead of pews, round tables fill the space and worship is led from a stage platform. The members come dressed formally or informally, the music is lively, the service is interactive, and Sabbath School happens over lunch following the worship service. According to the organizers, that is the goal.
MyGen church is the brainchild of Ricardo Bain, pastor of the New Life and Tabernacle of Joy churches, whose doctoral studies focused on youth and young adult ministries. The church was organized in response to seeing the vast number of young people leave the church or disengage with it. In 2014, Bain shared his vision with several people, and after much prayer, the organizing process began in 2016. The church envisions engaging youth and young adults in mission work in New York City.
Yeiri Robert, a member of the organizing committee of MyGen church, saw the need for a safe, judgment-free space for young people to attend. She noted that many of the young people were rapidly leaving her church. “A church like MyGen,” she said, “allows [young people] to be themselves and find themselves, and to make that ultimate choice to live for God.” Robert believes that this church is a welcoming space for young people to talk about difficult issues that they may not be comfortable discussing in their home setting, and that is one of its most attractive qualities.
MyGen church has also attracted young people to come back to the Adventist Church. Chad Simmons was an active member of an Adventist church, and it was there that he found his passion to work with youth. Simmons was excited about promoting programs for young people, but after feeling discouraged and unsupported with his ideas and programs, Simmons eventually left the church, but did not leave the faith. “For me, it was about spirituality versus being in the religion,” he said.
Although not attending church, Simmons still kept the Sabbath day holy and kept nurturing his relationship with God. At a homecoming service, he met Bain and became excited about the idea of MyGen church. When he heard about the plans and goals of MyGen church, he wanted to be a part of it in every way. “It’s bringing me back into Seventh-day Adventism,” Simmons said.
MyGen, for members like Simmons, is a space where God can be worshiped in an interactive environment while fellowshipping with uplifting and encouraging people, said leaders of the MyGen church team. They also shared that they have begun planning mission projects in New York City.
“This mission-driven church plant is a wonderful example of reaching millennials in Greater New York and beyond,” they said.
An original version of this story was published in the Atlantic Union Gleaner.