Adventist college and university student leaders asked questions on a wide range of topics during the first Facebook Live Event titled “Is This Thing On?” (ITTO) on March 14. The almost two-hour Q&A session with Dan Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America (NAD), and Alex Bryant, executive secretary, was held on the campus of Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The studio audience was comprised of Union students and Adventist Intercollegiate Association (AIA) student leaders from across the division, who were on campus the evening before the start of the 2017 AIA convention.
Students at the event, along with young adults on social media, asked questions on many subjects, including race relations in the church, enrollment in Adventist schools, LGBT+ student issues, and women’s ordination.
"What I appreciated most about this event was how thoughtfully and purposefully it was put together to make sure as many people as possible could have their questions answered," said Nicqelle Godfrey, La Sierra Univeristy Student Association president and AIA participant. "It was very clear that no question was treated as insignificant, which showed us how much the church earnestly wanted to converse with us all."
Just a few hours after the event aired, Facebook reports indicated that the video received 23,000 views, almost 400 shares, and 1,300 posted comments, which included questions and statements regarding the event. These views and comments have continued to rise in the few days after ITTO. Hundreds of tweeted comments, questions, and quotes from the event, and more than 200 retweets of NAD tweets, all using #NADnow, helped ITTO trend at number two on Twitter for March 14. Helping these numbers was a handful of students on campus tasked with working as social media "ambassadors" during the event.
"I was most thankful for the opportunity to be able to work backstage with the social media team," said Maylina Graham, a sophomore international relations major at Union. "It fit the theme of reaching out to the youth of the church — just as President Jackson was answering questions from the youth, the NAD production reached out to the students at Union College. It gave me the opportunity to use the talents that God has given me to reach my peers."
Graham added, "My thoughts about the Adventist church and its leadership have changed in a sense that I feel that they are now concerned with our questions and our problems. . . . I know that they are actively listening and are ready to put our ideas into actions."
“Is This Thing On?” is an intentional effort to reach as many young adult Adventists in North America as possible—and engage in a conversation on issues important to them.
“Using social media as a platform for communication is something relatively new for the church,” said Dan Weber, director of communication for the NAD. “But it’s proving to be a valuable way to reach audiences and connect with them in both broad and personal ways.”
In preparing for the event, Jackson expressed excitement about talking with the students and young adults sending questions via Facebook and Twitter. “We have the opportunity to dialogue, pray, . . . and work through issues together," said Jackson. “We want to engage our young adults in open and transparent conversation on issues that are important to them. Dialogue is vital to the health of our church.”
Several young adults shared these sentiments through tweets and posts. Here are just a few:
Garrison Hayes tweeted: "Really appreciate the candor of our @NADadventist leaders about WO and the way the NAD is navigating these tricky waters. #NADnow"
Angelo Grasso posted: "Great job! Really appreciated the transparency and willingness to tackle tough issues. Hope ya'll do this again soon. Would love to see issues around mental health and addiction addressed in future episodes."
Jada Lewis tweeted: "Thank you @NADadventist for starting the conversation! #NADnow #ProudAdventist #NextGeneration"
Michael Gibson tweeted: "Young adults: we are more than the future of the church. No matter age, if you are alive today you are the church now. #NADnow"
Leonel Warner posted: "Thank you! It's time for us as college students to stop saying we are the FUTURE. No we ARE the church, we need to read and show ourselves approved so that we can carry on this message!"
Winnie Apidi tweeted: "I am the church. You are the church. We are the church. Don't give up. We should stop taking the back bench as young people. Serve. #NADnow"
Plans are underway for another event in the fall, and questions may also be answered in the interim — use #NADnow when tweeting/posting questions. To watch the broadcast, CLICK HERE; for more information, checkout the NAD Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/NADAdventist); or visit ittoshow.org.