Have you ever had one of those experiences where you hear a stat or a piece of information that you just can’t seem to get off your mind? I’m not talking about being able to get the latest Kanye or Lizzo tune out of your head, but wrestling with a piece of weighty information that both captures your thoughts and penetrates your heart. I ran across such a stat recently that has arrested my mind and kept me thinking ever since.
A recent LifeWay study indicated that “four in 10 pastors said they were most concerned about how their church would reach young adults—2.5 times more than the next most frequent response.” Did you get that? The number one question pastors are asking is, “How is my church going to reach young adults?” It’s easy for church leaders to feel overwhelmed by the weight of and barriers to reaching a new generation, but I’m grateful for pastors who have a vision for making this a priority.
If you are leading a church and feeling stuck in your ministry to young adults or looking to begin a renewed emphasis on this demographic, here are a few suggestions as you continue to forge ahead.
- Tackle the hard issues in your sermons. Young adults are bombarded with multiple worldviews and often absorb cultural norms as equal to biblical truth. They are drawn to genuine conversations that address the real questions they have. They need your help and guidance to build a biblical worldview and to see that God really does have something beneficial and substantive to say about their questions. They can see through “pat answers” and are turned off by “churchy” jargon, so be aware that it may take some work on your end to present this information in a way that best communicates to young adults.
- Be accessible. I don’t mean you need to hang out at Waffle House until midnight three nights a week, but prioritize finding ways to interact with young adults from places other than behind the pulpit. Encourage your young adults to bring their friends and introduce them to you. Simply making yourself available in the lobby before or after service to shake hands and make a personal connection will go a long way when it comes time to start your sermon. Making those personal connections with them will also help you keep their faces at the forefront of your mind during your sermon prep.
- Keep the main thing the main thing. If your church becomes known more for its connection to a particular political party or side alliance than its commitment to the gospel, young adults will flee like the plague. They are very suspicious of Christians using their faith as a means to further a political or other agenda. Demonstrate how the Kingdom trumps all other allegiances and calls us to a greater, unified mission.
It certainly won’t always be easy, but there are some intentional steps you can take to move forward in reaching young adults. Young adults need faithful pastors! May many more be raised up with the passion to reach and disciple a new generation.
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.