I found out today that in our church (House of Praise) 30% of our adults have not yet seen their 31st birthday. Out of the 200 adults that come to a Sunday Service on avg. 60 are between the ages of 18 and 30! That is a blessing but that also brings the questions of how to properly care for that niche.
In our Sunday Service we have modern music, high energy presentations, video & technology, drama & art, and life-application teaching all targeted at getting the attention of the under 30 crowd and it’s worked. Then what?
The Amercian church has done a great job of teaching Sunday school or children’s church. We also have good youth programs for teens. In the last few years we’ve gotten better at helping established couples with the marriages and finances. We haven’t discipled well the young adults, the college and new career age. (I don’t think we do a good job at ministering to the retired and older either but that’s for another blog.)
To continue to challenge and grow the young adults we started with small groups to build relationships. We had midweek series called “Dating, Mating, & Relating” that was enthusastically received by people. So much so I may resurrect if for a Sunday series. BUT some how the young adults still feel disconnected.
We must be proactive about a three-fold approach.
- Hang time – there has to be organic times in the schedule for causual conversation about real issues. Cafe’s that stay open all day Sunday, comfortable nooks and reading spots in the church for people to come during the day and sit. Think, Starbucks or Barnes & Noble, the quad on the college campus.
- Serving – I know this seems to be the contradictory but if a young person is serving there’s a sense of ownership. Here’s the important part though, not serving for serving sake. Church leaders have to give young people a vision they can believe in and a task they are passionate about.
- Giving – We have done a poor job of teaching stewardship to the young adults. Just look at the fact that there is more credit debt for the 20-30 years old now than in any time in our nation’s history and you can see that. Giving breaks a “what about me?” mentality and begins to get God involved in their finances. Again, it also created a sense of purpose and connection with the church vision.
- Relationship & Decision Making Teaching – The big issue for this age is making life changing decisions especially in the area of relationships. More young people leave serving God because of dating an unsaved person than all other issues combined! Teach them that it is a sin to be yoked together with an unbeliever. (2 Cor 6:14) Tell them not to take counsel from ungodly people (Psalm 1). Help them to make Kingdom First decisions (Matt 6:33).
- Leadership – Having under 30 people in leadership roles, especially that are visible, helps young adult know that you don’t see them as kids. I’m not just talking about youth and children’s pastors! We have had worship leaders, church secretaries, creative directors, service MCs, media directors, greeters, even ushers that are under 30. It send the message, “You matter.”
In closing, I don’t have all the answers but I know we can’t minister to a 25 year old the same way we do a 55 year old. They have different needs, desires and speak a different language.
We need to continue to modernize our methods while not compromising our message and we need to be intentional about discipling the young adults.