Young Adult Discipleship: Looking Forward

by | Mar 23, 2024

It was the summer of 2011, and I didn’t know what to do next. I had just graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville with the plan of coming back to Michigan for a master’s degree in education. But as I filled out the application and thought about the path ahead, I only experienced peace and joy when I envisioned helping people meet Jesus. I had known Ralph Martin and Peter Herbeck most of my life, as my parents had been part of the community with them for many years. I had always wanted to be like Peter, so it made sense to share with him my desire to serve the Lord. Sitting in the Herbecks’ living room, I asked Peter if Renewal Ministries had any space for me. He replied, “Not really, but let’s pray about it and see what happens.” 

Soon after, I got a job as a gym teacher at a local Catholic school, and the principal gave me Fridays off to pursue ministry work. Peter graciously offered to meet and pray with me on those days, and I found myself sitting at his feet, listening and learning about evangelization and discipleship. As time went on, I noticed an ache developing in me for my peers who had left the faith or had never heard the Gospel. I regularly prayed, “Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours.” Eventually, Jesus answered that prayer. One day in adoration, I found myself crying, distressed to the core over young adults who did not know Jesus. This holy discontent, along with the leadership and sacrifice of many people, helped launch the Renewal Ministries’ outreach known as i.d.9:16, and then just id, with the mission of helping young adults become intentional disciples of Jesus Christ. 

The ache in my heart has not gone away, even as we’ve seen both significant mission fruitfulness and frustrating failures. Our team has grown and changed; parishes we’ve partnered with have come and gone; the leaders we’ve formed have grown, built, and moved on. Through it all, we have desperately wanted people to meet Jesus, fall in love with Him, and share Him with others. We’ve tried to build communities of missionary disciples led by Spirit-filled leaders who have a deep and convicting desire and strategy to engage those in the pews and reach those who are not. We’ve conducted retreats all over the US and Canada, led Alpha courses, provided dozens and dozens of Disciples’ Nights, produced leadership and discipleship content, and haven’t stopped innovating and trying new things, because we only want to do what Jesus is inspiring us to do. “Expectant listening” is one of our team values, which means we believe God desires to communicate with us and that we can hear and discern his will. Every year, Jesus invites us to emphasize new things, stop other ones, and trust Him more and more. 2023 was no exception! 

All of this leads to an announcement: Last spring, Director of Young Adult Discipleship Rachel Herbeck, Director of Operations Chris Baker, and I embarked on a period of discernment to hear from the Lord on his perspective and plans for id moving forward. After much peaceful, occasionally surprising, and hopeful conversations, and with the approval of Ralph, Peter, and the Renewal Ministries’ Board, we’ve decided it’s time for id to end as a distinct outreach of Renewal Ministries.  

To be clear, we are closing the doors only on the concept of id’s work as a separate part of Renewal Ministries’ overall mission. What remains steadfast is our commitment to our current team and to the young adults we want to continue reaching with the full Gospel. The overall vision and mission of Renewal Ministries also remains unchanged. Over the past year, we have come to believe that the Lord showed us we can be more fruitful both as individuals and as members of Renewal Ministries by responding to opportunities without the constraints of the current “id model” and “id branding.” Instead, we’ll look for avenues for preaching the Gospel and helping people grow as disciples, become Spirit-filled leaders, and live in the power of the Holy Spirit, but in a manner more consistent with how Renewal Ministries has operated around the world for the past forty-plus years. 

There’s often sadness that comes with something ending, and we definitely feel the bittersweetness of this transition. However, we are confident the Lord is leading us in this direction, and we are excited for the doors He will open moving forward. 

I want to thank you all for your prayers, financial support, and enthusiasm for our mission over the years. We never would have started discipleship communities in Jacksonville, Florida; preached the Gospel in Fargo, North Dakota; or developed Spirit-filled leaders in Perth, Australia, without the loyal and faithful friends of Renewal Ministries behind us. Please don’t stop supporting us, because although id is ending, the original heartache remains. Our passion for souls remains unabated, and the need for the younger generations to hear the Gospel has only increased. 

In October of 2011, a group of us went on retreat to cry out to God for guidance, and during one of the prayer times, the Lord drew our attention to 1 Corinthians 9:16: “If I preach the Gospel, this gives me no grounds for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach it.” As the Lord calls us to serve Him and the Church in a variety of ways moving forward, be assured, we will not stop trying to help people become intentional disciples!

Have you been donating to id? If so, thank you! Please continue supporting our work of reaching young adults with the Gospel by supporting Renewal Ministries, here. If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected].

This post originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ March 2024 newsletter.

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About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Pete Burak</a>

Pete Burak

Pete Burak is vice president of Renewal Ministries. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, and has a Master’s Degree in Theology from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. Pete is a frequent speaker on discipleship, evangelization, and young adult topics, and he is the co-director of Pine Hills Boys Camp. Pete and his wife, Cait, have five children.


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