Theology and Practice of Mission for the 21st Century
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Ministering with Young Adults
The following is an excellent post from Lou Jander's "Dr. J's Ponderings". I would provide a link, but to my knowledge, it is simply an enews newsletter, -------------------- Young Adults and the Church As I look around our church, around the community, and even around other churches, I keep wondering about the young adult population, a segment that continues to grow and not necessarily in church participation. A few weeks ago a number of members and I attended a workshop put on by Lutheran Hour Ministries, Equipping to Share, a fine workshop for the basics of being an everyday, anywhere witness for Jesus. There were about 35 people in attendance. I don’t have the best “gage” of age these days, but a quick count of those in the room rendered about five under the age of 50. Wonder how that plays out in most of our churches on Sunday morning…just the adults please…five young adults under 50 of those adults in attendance. Just pondering!
This all leads me to something that has been an interest and passion for the past 16 years (that’s how long it’s been since I was a “young adult”): young adults in the church. In some reading I was doing recently, I wrote down some notes that speak to young adults in the church. So here they are:
Young Adults Talk About Church Involvement Church leaders often seek ways to keep young adults involved during the transitions of young adulthood. The following comments are taken from young adults who answered the question: “Based on your experience, what suggestions would you offer to churches for effectiveness in ministry to young adults after college graduation or at the time of entering the workforce?”
Don't ignore us. There doesn't seem to be any place for us after the college group unless it's helping with the teen group (and a lot do that in my church).
I think having a small group to mentor and help us with our concerns and spiritual challenges would be helpful. Help us connect with the other generations in the congregation. We can learn a lot from people who are 5 to 50 years older than we are.
Churches need to let young adults know they are important to the church. Provide a structure for them; listen to them to see what they are looking for. Churches will automatically become more effective with young adult ministry if they show through their actions (providing structure, belonging, and leadership) that young adults are a priority.
The time right after graduation is such a scary time of making decisions, finding your spouse, finding your place in your career, finding a place to live, and so on. The church should be one place that young adults find guidance!
Maybe churches could identify local companies and businesses that have hired recent college graduates. Then, reach out to those who are struggling to live on their own for the first time. Offer financial seminars, social gatherings to meet others, and provide fellowship opportunities. But most importantly, get them involved. Not just in youth and children's ministries, include community outreach. Our generation wants to help, to serve, and to get involved!
Have a group that college/career age individuals can attend. Important aspects of this group would be active community involvement and a concentration on discipleship and evangelism. We also need to associate with older adults for discipleship.
Find out where we are in our careers, on our spiritual journeys, in our relationships, and where we want to be. Identify people in the church who are willing to mentor us. Invite us to be part of a ministry or encourage, empower, and support us as we begin one. We still have things to learn! We can add valuable components to the church such as creativity, energy, and an adventurous spirit.
Information about young adults often paints them with a broad brush and can be disheartening. These comments from young adults with connections to the church remind us that many are committed to living the Christian lifestyle. Our challenge is to mentor, encourage, and support them as they seek direction for their lives. These comments extend an invitation for adults to share life with them. What actions can and will you take?
More than a dozen years ago I used the image of a "man on a swing" (trapeze) to describe the church in a time of transition from Christendom to a New Missionary Age. The study of that transition and its practical impact has been the focus of my ministry since then as a Mission and Ministry Facilitator and District President for the Southeastern District, Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, and as a consultant focusing on stewardship for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. This blog will be an extension of that exploration and discussion.