Over the past few months, we’ve produced some blogs about how rewarding it is to minister to young adults and be a part of God’s Kingdom advancement in the lives of young adults who are at such a pivotal time in their lives. Getting to invest in the next generation of church leaders is exciting and rewarding. But, can we also agree that sometimes ministry among them is especially tough?
Here are four reasons why I think young adult ministry can be challenging:
1. They are ALL in a new phase of life.
Here are some of the possible descriptions of folks that fall into the young adult category:
- College students learning to live out from under their parents’ roof for the first time
- Working young adults trying to learn the ebb and flow and responsibilities associated with their first full-time job
- Newly-married couples figuring out how to navigate married life
- First-time parents who just want to survive each day with a newborn
So, whomever you’re trying to reach and disciple in the young adult category, chances are they are in the middle of a major life transition, which always brings new questions, stress, and challenges their way. As a trusted mentor, many of those questions and challenges (along with the stress) will end up in your office and probably even at your dinner table.
2. More than any previous time in our nation’s history, young adults are engulfed in a culture that is not based on a Christian worldview.
When the culture around us tries to take God out of the equation and insists that we have a better, smarter, more advanced way to run the world than God intended, chaos ensues. Young adults are constantly hearing ideas based on other worldviews, whether it be from a professor in the classroom or a coworker in the break room. Often, addressing those questions can’t be done with a simple one-sentence answer. It is more important than ever that we as ministry leaders have a strong foundation on the whole counsel of Scripture and can teach those we disciple to do the same.
3. Time and other distractions are a major issue.
We know that college students and young adults (especially singles and those with no kids) tend to have more available time and fewer responsibilities than they ever will at any other point in their lives. But, there is so much vying for their attention that getting them to commit to something can be an issue. It can be tough to ever know if any event or Bible study will be a success because we don’t know if anyone is going to commit and show up. This is where it is helpful to create a sense of family and strong community in our ministries so that it is one of the first places young adults want to invest their “limited” time.
4. Lastly, we can’t forget that we live in a post Genesis 3 reality.
The world is broken! People are broken! There will be pain, death, divorce, addictions, friendship issues, relationship drama, bad grades, parent conflict, depression, and the list goes on. As much as we want to shield young adults from these issues, they will happen, and they are looking in our direction for help. For the most part, we aren’t professional counselors, so while navigating a bad test grade may be in our wheelhouse, single-handedly walking a young adult through suicidal thoughts probably is not. It is okay to ask for help! That may be the best gift you can give to someone under your care.
There you go. Our ministry is tough. Doesn’t it feel good sometimes to commiserate in our misery together and know that you aren’t the only one who feels some of these realities? I hope you aren’t going it alone. We all feel isolated in ministry at times, and we all need help. We are better when we support one another and find community with other young adult ministers, whether it is in person or over the phone.
We’d love to have you join us for the National Collegiate Leadership Summit, which is a great place to network with other young adult ministry leaders and receive great training from national experts and other practitioners who are in the trenches daily right alongside you. If you can’t join us in May, I hope you have others who can encourage you along the way!
Bill Noe is the Collegiate Ministry Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. A former campus minister (and current collegiate ministry volunteer at church), Bill loves being a part of seeing college students grow in their walk with the Lord. Connect with Bill on Twitter.