This past weekend I read a scandalous story. It’s a story of cheating, being taken advantage of, and losing everything. It’s also one of the most wonderful stories ever told.
My daily Bible reading took me to the Old Testament prophet Hosea. His story includes marrying a girl named Gomer who was promiscuous in almost every way imaginable. But Hosea loved Gomer, even when Gomer didn’t return that love. Hosea bought her back even though she was technically already his. He gave it all. She was unfaithful. He was faithful. Even in today’s terms, it’s a pretty scandalous story.
This weekend, I watched three individuals be baptized at our church. It was a beautiful representation of crossing over from death to life. In the same service, we observed the Lord’s Supper. The elements of the bread and the cup – representing the body and the blood – were made so vivid for me. Jesus gave everything He had. Even though I was a cheater and a liar, Jesus gave it all. The story is pretty scandalous. Colossians 1:13 tells us He “has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.”
So what would it look like if the church gave everything we have, as followers of Jesus, to reach young adults? Honestly, it would look scandalous in many ways.
- Being intentional about reaching young adults might take the church places where they’ve never been before.
For many years, the church has embraced a “y’all come” mentality. But if we’re going to be serious about reaching young adults, we must get comfortable being in spaces where young adults are doing life together. Where are young adults gathering in your community? Only you can answer that for your context, but it’s a critical question to ask.
Will this question take you to some places that could make you a little uncomfortable? It may. Hosea was probably not comfortable walking through the red light district looking for his wife. But he loved her and was willing to do whatever it took to show Gomer his love was different.
- The church that has a pursuing mentality will begin to make an impact in the young adult community.
A church that’s intentional will be a pursuing church. They will be making the first move to be a part of the local college campus. They will be the first to offer outreach to single moms. They will be the first to find ways to connect with servers in restaurants in the community. They could be accused of pursuing because of their love and compassion.
Hosea probably woke up many nights to find Gomer missing. He would get up, get dressed, and go out and find her. He had a pursuing mentality for the one he loved.
- Don’t be something you’re not when pursuing young adults.
If there’s anything that young adults value, it’s authenticity. One of the primary problems young adults have with the church is that they say the church is hypocritical. If we design a ministry with and for young adults that has all the outside coverings of the latest and greatest, but it isn’t genuine, that ministry will quickly falter.
Your church has a personality. Be who you are. Individuals who interact with young adults must present a genuine approach to life that shows authenticity and care. Allowing young adults through the back door of our lives will give them a picture of who we really are – scars and all.
Hosea had an authentic approach in his forever pursuit of Gomer. He consistently lived out his words, but with a love that gave everything that he had.
Ministry to young adults won’t always be easy. It will have its ups and downs. It will be messy. There will be heartache. But young adults are worth pursuing.
If we get serious about reaching young adults, our pursuit may even look scandalous.
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.