As I visit with people around the country leading ministries for young adults, I’m consistently amazed by their passion and sacrifice to reach this important group with the gospel. They are always pouring out their lives, thinking up the best new practices, and sacrificing emotional, physical, and spiritual energy to disciple others.
I enjoy hearing about and seeing a variety of ministry models all aimed at reaching the next generation for Christ. As much as I see differences in ministry approaches and practices, there are several consistent themes or trends I see, which seem to be present regardless of the group’s location or ministry model.
Here’s part one of 10 trends in college and young adult ministry:
1. Young adults are increasingly part of a post-Christian culture.
More and more young adults are not coming from a churched background. Our ministries to young adults must not assume they have an understanding of who Jesus is or of basic Biblical principles.
2. Multiple models of reaching young adults are being tried and embraced.
This is most evident in ministries reaching college students. There are a variety of campus-based, church-based, and church planting models, all aimed at reaching young adults with the gospel. Regardless of the method, I’m grateful for the countless individuals and groups who refuse to ignore the need and potential kingdom impact of reaching young adults.
3. Anxiety and depression are at an all-time high amongst young adults.
If you are ministering to young adults, it is important that you prepare in advance to help those dealing with anxiety and depression. Sometimes, a listening ear can go a long way in helping a young adult talk through isolated instances of anxiety related to a test or a specific relationship. Other times, anxiety and depression can be prolonged or even connected to suicidal thoughts. It is wise to research Christian counselors in your area in order to be prepared to refer a young adult when encountering these more severe cases of anxiety and depression.
4. The area of sexuality is getting blurry for young adults in our culture.
As alternate sexual lifestyles grow increasingly prominent in mainstream culture and media, more and more young adults are basing their beliefs off the cultural norms around them rather than traditional Christian views of sexuality. Additionally, most young adults have LGBTQ friends, which often skews how they read and interpret Scripture.
5. Suspicious postures toward Christianity are more common from the outside world.
As the culture, at large (including university settings), grows suspicious of Christian groups and the church, we can no longer take for granted that outside groups and individuals will assume the best about our ministries. Specifically, when ministering in a collegiate context, we must think through where our values and priorities line up with those of the university (as well as being aware of where they may not).
These trends are just a part of the reality we face in ministering to young adults today. Some of these trends certainly bring along some challenges, but recognizing the obstacles is an important step in developing ministries that are as effective as possible in reaching young adults. Part two will be released next month!
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.