I had an interesting conversation with a pastor a few days ago. He was convinced that young adults have no desire to be involved with anything connected to the church. He told me that his church had tried several things over the course of the past year and nothing worked. My heart goes out to a leader that truly desires to see young adults connected to the body of Christ only to keep running into roadblocks.
On the flip side, I have had the joy of getting to know churches that are seeing young adults deeply involved with their congregations. I’m convinced that we cannot give up on reaching, equipping, and mobilizing young adults for the cause of the Gospel.
Here are some of the characteristics of churches I’ve seen who are effectively connecting with young adults in their communities.
1. They provide a place for community.
Young adults are all about community! They enjoy the opportunity to do life together. Remember, community is much more than simply having a get-together every other week. Community is built when there is an authentic desire for life to happen together. Young adults have seen enough inauthenticity in the world. They’re hungry to find genuine relationship with people who care and desire to see the best in their lives. And I’m certain there is no better place to do that than the church.
“Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers and be compassionate and humble.” (I Peter 3:8, HCSB)
2. There is a genuine depth in teaching.
Churches who are seeing young adults involved are churches that are taking seriously the teaching of the scriptures in all of their teaching environments. From the small group teaching to the messages in the worship services, there is a depth.
For too long, young adults have seen people satisfied with easy answers. However, young adults are actually drawn in when they wrestle with scripture and how it intersects with their lives. They want more than mere information—they care deeply about the depth and richness of the truth.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33, HCSB)
3. They provide opportunities for service.
Young adults don’t want to simply take up a seat—they want to actively participate in the mission of the church. Churches that are connecting with young adults provide opportunities for young adults to serve both inside the ministry of the church as well as in their community and world. Young adults are more than willing to go to the difficult places around the world because they understand the urgency of the Gospel.
“Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.” (I Peter 4:10, HCSB)
4. Mentoring is a part of the church’s culture.
Young adults want to learn from people who are a little further along the journey of walking with Christ than they are. They value individuals who are willing to invest and mentor them along the way. Churches that have a strong mentoring culture will be churches that will attract young adults. These deep and authentic relationships with individuals that are willing to do life with these young adults will be key parts of a young adult’s journey with Christ.
“One generation will declare Your works to the next and will proclaim Your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:4, HCSB)
Healthy churches that have a deep desire to see the generations reached are intentional on making sure these four areas are a part of their young adult ministry.
For a helpful study on reaching young adults, we recommend Context: Engaging the Young Adults of Your Community. Click the link for a free download of this helpful resource! Also, check out Lifeway.com/YoungAdults for more info on Bibles studies, events, and training tools.
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.