In the past months, many of us at Threads have been rolling around the country going to Connect Conferences and meeting church leaders who are vitally interested in reaching young adults. For those of you who haven’t been able to join us, here are our answers to five of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received.
My church has a Sunday School. Do we need to transition to small groups to be able to reach young adults?
Not necessarily. If you have a Sunday School structure that embraces depth, responsibility, community, and connection, then you probably have something worth keeping and building on to reach young adults. If you have an hour where someone lectures for 45 minutes, takes prayer requests for 15 minutes, doesn’t know the deep needs of anyone in the room, and fails to challenge attendees to ask hard questions about their own spiritual walks, then you probably need to do something differently. Perhaps, you just need to do Sunday School differently and better. Small groups are not the magic elixir that will solve all of the problems of your church. Only by working hard at building biblical community, teaching the Bible with depth, giving your people a God-sized mission, and connecting generations will you make the kind of impact that will reach young adults. You can do that through small groups or Sunday School.
How important is music to reaching young adults?
Having excellent worship experiences through music is important to any generation you want to reach through your church. I don’t think young adults are any exception. But a church that believes having the city’s best worship band is the key to reaching young adults is dead wrong. One person sold out to God, playing an acoustic guitar, sitting on a stool, and leading people to truly worship trumps a great band with great sound that is merely performing music to a crowd—any day, any time. Also, it’s important to know that starting a community young adult worship gathering may be the hardest thing to do in young adult ministry, so my advice is to start with your groups and build out from there.
How can I reach out to all races and cultures of young adults?
My question back is, who are your leaders? If all of your leaders are Caucasian mobile professionals, those are the people your church will reach. If your leaders include people of all races, cultures, and socio-economic groups, then you will reach the same mix of God’s people. But don’t expect to reach a diverse group of people with a less than diverse group of leaders. Invest in young leaders from all nations. You will reach young people from all nations.
What kind of Bible study resources do you recommend for young adult ministry?
(This is not a trick promotional question. We really get this a lot.)
Ours. We design them specifically for young adults and our churches tell us they’re very good. When we hear they need improvement, we improve them. I think ours are very good and getting even better. Click here for the complete list of Threads studies.
What are some examples of effective outreach approaches for young adults?
- The Walk, a collegiate ministry of Sevier Heights Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., offers college freshmen the opportunity to have their clothes washed and delivered back to them in their dorms.
- Connect 3 on 3 Ministries helps churches host a community basketball tournament that reaches young adults. Sports events of all kinds will help you reach into the unchurched and de-churched world.
- We talk about these folks a lot, but Kairos Nashville, Brentwood Baptist Church, Mike Glenn, Cathy Patterson, and Michael Boggs do it right. What they do is hard to do with excellence, but God gives them the ability to do an amazing community worship gathering that reaches young adults who need Christ. Check out Mike’s book In Real Time to learn even more.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.