It may seem like a small word change, but the better question is, “How do we keep young adults engaged in our church?”
Churches in communities from small towns to large cities desire to see young adults and young families engaged in the overall mission of the church. The excitement and perspective that young adults bring to a church can breathe fresh life into a congregation that seeks to be both relevant and gospel driven.
Here are 4 thoughts that may help churches keep young adults engaged, not just involved or simply participating.
- Make sure there is a depth to the teaching in worship and small groups.
Lifeway Research has found that young adults are more likely to connect to a ministry that is known for depth. And by depth, I don’t mean information. With depth of teaching, there are opportunities for pastors, Sunday school teachers, and small group leaders to ask questions that bring about more than a memorized response, but an answer that may involve some honest and time-consuming thought.
Young adults are not afraid to ask the why’s of life and desire to see how Scripture intersects with the every day moments of vocation, family and community. Even though young adults are advocates of the quick and now, when it comes to their spiritual walk, they truly desire for it to be authentic and real – which they understand takes time and thought. In a culture that is consistently asking the hard questions, young adults need to be challenged with how their faith is a significant component of how they make decisions and opinions.
- Give them opportunities to serve.
Are young adults busy? You better believe they are! Often church leaders think that young adults don’t have the time to offer themselves in opportunities to serve in the local church setting. When we do this, we say to them that our desire is for them to simply be an observer and not a server.
Don’t be afraid to ask young adults to serve in areas of leadership and service. If they can’t do it, they will say no. When young adults know that they are a valuable asset to the overall mission of what a church is doing and where she is going, they will be engaged to a deeper level. Young adults desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves and when they are able to be a part of something making a difference, they are all in!
- Don’t overcomplicate things.
Sometimes in the church we do a really good job of making things complicated! Churches that see a significant number of young adults engaged do things with purpose and thoughtful steps. It’s already been addressed that young adults are busy. When they perceive a ministry, a program or an activity as complicated, they will dismiss it and move on to something that they can give their time to and not be frustrated.
What areas of your church could be perceived as complicated? Do you know what those even are? Have you asked a young adult what they perceive as complicated?
- Make sure they are heard.
Churches often make decisions intended to reach young adults but have not involved young adults in the conversation.Young adults bring a lot to the table when it comes to ideas, perceptions and support. Plus, they have a pulse on culture that can be valuable to this discussion. When young adults know that they have a voice within a church, they will move from simply being involved to being engaged.
One significant byproduct that happens naturally when young adults are involved in decisions is the relationships built between the generations of individuals in the church. Young adults desire to walk alongside others that are a little further along the journey and learn from them. When a church values the voice of young adults, the generations are spending time together, understanding one another and working toward the vision of reaching a community for Christ.
A church that is actively seeking the engagement—and not just the involvement—of young adults will be a group of believers that makes an impact beyond the walls of the church.
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 at @MarkWhitt70.