Transient is not a bad word.
On any given Sunday in a young adult/collegiate ministry setting in our churches, we are likely to have a completely different crowd each week. Young adults work. They go on spontaneous trips. Family lives in different cities. Young adults are transient. They don’t stay in one place for very long – not because they don’t want to – it’s simply the pace of their lives in our modern-day culture.
If we aren’t aware of the transient pace of young adults and college students, it could greatly frustrate those of us in leadership. We may feel there isn’t a commitment to what we’re attempting to lead in our church or ministry. But let me encourage you to not be discouraged. Young adults are seeking stability in their lives, and many leaders in young adult ministries offer those opportunities for community and investment.
Here are four ways you can make sure you’re connecting with the Millennials in your church and community even in their transient lifestyle:
- Never think of ministry with Millennials with a “Sunday only” mentality.
The misconception that many churches have toward young adult ministry is that a small group offered on Sunday morning is sufficient. Let me be the first to say that the Sunday morning gathering is only just the beginning. Ministries that are intentional about connecting with young adults and college students throughout the week by being present in places they frequent will see a greater buy-in to the overall ministry your church desires to have with young adults.
It’s important to keep the conversation going for those who were present for a small group setting where there was discussion about the biblical text and how it intersects with the ongoing season of a young adult’s life. Finding ways for young adults to continue to gather, to bring their friends, and to build community are crucial. And all of that happens outside of Sunday.
To further this emphasis, many young adults have jobs that require them to work on Sunday mornings. If we want to convey the message that we are “for” them, we must think of our ministry as more than a “Sunday only” connection.
- Social media skills are a MUST!
We have great tools to help us stay connected with individuals in our ministry, even when they can’t be with the group. Leaders who are intentional about sending out the discussion questions, the text that the group is studying, and ways the group can pray for one another to the ones who can’t be there are saying that he or she is valuable to that group.
There are countless ways to send group studies in a digital format for the individual to read and study. If various times are held throughout the week for the group to gather, they could jump in the conversation with no difficulty of having to play catch up. This ongoing conversation is key in helping young adults understand that being a Christ-follower is not a segment of their life–it IS their life!
If as a leader you haven’t become social media savvy, I’m encouraging you to jump in the game. Pick a social media that many young adults are using and join in the conversation (Twitter, Instagram, and so forth). Be a part of the conversation. Even lead the conversation. Throw out points to ponder or questions that were connected to your discussion. A lot can be said in 140 characters–believe me!
- Be involved in the lives of young adults.
Nothing speaks to a young adult more than a simple text or message to let them know that they’re being thought of and prayed for. If you know of certain activities that those individuals are involved in, show up. Support a young guy who’s a part of a start-up band and has a Friday night gig. Take your spouse to the play at the community theatre where a young lady is making her debut. Take your kids to the local art gallery where a few of your college students are showing their pieces of art. Those things speak volumes to young adults. Meet young adults where they are in life. Allow them to see that as Christ-followers, you are willing to intersect with the everyday weaving of their life.
- Remind church leadership that just because they don’t always see them, it doesn’t mean young adults aren’t connecting in some way.
If your ministry is connecting with young adults outside of a typical Sunday morning session, leadership in your church may not recognize the impact that the ministry is having on young adults and college students. Always be prepared with stories of the way the Lord is working in the lives of young adults connected to your church and how they’re being used in their context to point others to Christ.
“Out of sight, out of mind” should never be a phrase churches are guilty of unintentionally embracing. Young adults are transient and may not always be visible to the people who are present at the primary gatherings of your church. However, just because they aren’t visible doesn’t mean they can’t be a key emphasis of your church’s ministry. Continue to remind church leadership that reaching young adults, college students, and young families is key to the health of your church.
We live in a culture that’s more transient than any other time in history. Jobs change, people move, schedules are planned to the minute. If we’re going to be a part of young adults’ lives, we must be willing to intersect with their transient life in creative and meaningful ways. We don’t have time to not consider it!
Mark Whitt is the Collegiate and Young Adult Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. Before joining Lifeway, he spent many years on the campus of Murray State University as a campus minister. Connect with Mark via Twitter.