PENSACOLA–No longer members of the youth department and not yet married, single young adults ages 18-34 can feel lost in the crowd when they enter the doors of the church.
Church ministries focus on preschool, children, youth, married couples and widows, but more often than not, college and young professionals are somewhere in the middle without strong connections to any group.
Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola is determined to change the disconnect to bring community to these young adults. Its mission has been taken to another level with a newly renovated facility dedicated to its young professionals and collegians.
Ethan Jago, Olive’s minister of young adults, said the church is committed to Colossians 1:10 as “our focus to point young adults to Christ, revive the authority of scripture in their life, and live in a manner worthy of the Lord pursuing after holiness in everything they do.
“We focus on discipleship and Christian living, which overflows from the young adult’s life into sharing the gospel with those they encounter,” he said.
The church’s newly renovated building for young adults, located at one of the busiest intersections in Pensacola, is called “The Corners,” a reference to Isaiah 11:12. The Corners is used for weekly “Crossroads” worship services that draws more than 100 college and young professionals who disciple one another. Additionally, the facility is used monthly by the slightly older young professionals for their “2:42” group meeting, referring to the ministry of the Early Church found in Acts 2:42.
Grad student Grace Perrett, who has attended Crossroads since 2018, has “gained not only an amazing sense of community, but a heart for God’s word and His people like never before,” she said, “The ministry uses inward relationships to come together and face outward to the community, ultimately pushing ourselves, and others, toward growth in an understanding of God’s word and the Great Commission.”
The Corners will also accommodate other events, including the church’s annual fall festival that brings more than 200 in attendance, and the “AUXANO” conference, with over 400 young adults attending. Workshops, seminars and other events will be planned in the facility, including an ongoing study hall to create outreach and gospel-sharing opportunities—along with free coffee.
Jago knows how critical it is to reach this segment of the population for Christ.
“The number of people raised in a Christian home leaving the church by age 18 and the shocking amount of self-isolation and individualization in this demographic highlights the need for a ministry targeting the often-neglected young professional age group,” he said. The segment is larger than the college-age group.
Jago served in the U.S. Air Force as a highly trained Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) specialist for 15 years and later ministered at other churches in the young adult ministry before arriving at Olive. He and his wife, Dianne, are founders of “Deeply Rooted Magazine.”
Courtney Price, 27, has been involved in Crossroads for a little more than a year and found the ministry “a tremendous blessing in my life,” she said.
“Christ-centered community is a vital part of my life as a young adult and Christ-follower. I’ve had the honor of serving on the discipleship team, and it has been so encouraging to see the growth and accountability among brothers and sisters in Christ,” she said.
“I continue to be amazed at how the Lord has expanded this ministry, and it continues to grow more and more. All glory to God.”
The Corners is located at the intersection of Davis Highway and University Parkway on the Olive Baptist Church campus, 8101 University Parkway. Crossroads meets Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. and Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. Every third Thursday, the 2:42 group meets at 6 p.m. For more information visit www.olivebaptist.org/youngadults.