You’ve Got Young Adults – Now What?
After all of the invitations, warm welcomes, and fresh coffee have created an inviting atmosphere for young adults, what do you do when you actually find them taking part in your ministries? Here’s a few ideas on how to help your congregation create discipleship opportunities for young adults.
First, Figure out Who the Young Adults Are in Your Congregation
Look, no one like labels. But in order to effectively engage in ministry with young adults, it helps to determine who in your congregation fits that category. The United Methodist Church defines young adults as people aged 18-35. Finding who is in that particular age range (or an age range that works well for your context) can help you identify the specific individuals to target for such a ministry. Identifying who the young adults are in your congregation can help in the next step…
Learn the Needs of Young Adults in your Congregation
As you might have noticed, the period between the ages 18-35 is a large spectrum with many life milestones. It can include everything from graduating high school and college, to starting a career and getting married, to having kids (or in my case adopting a puppy). By recognizing where young adults in your congregation are in life, you can better create discipleship opportunities for them.
Are the young adults in your congregation mostly college students looking for a break from their studies? Are they mostly young parents who could use a night away from parenting duties? Are you in a place with a number of early career young adults looking for fellowship after a long week? Could your congregation help young adults entering the workforce? Before planning an event, outing, or even scheduling a Bible study for young adults, ask them how the church can focus its efforts and meet their specific needs. You might be surprised by what they desire from their church.
Once you feel you understand the needs of the young adults in your midst, make sure that the discipleship opportunities you are planning allow young adults to be as comfortable as possible. This can include making sure that you have child care available, planning your gatherings convenient to work and parenting schedules, or meeting at easily accessible places. Removing these barriers will allow them to focus on the discipleship activity.
Integrate Young Adults into the Whole Life of the Congregation
When trying to create meaningful experiences for young adults in your church, it can be tempting to push them into their own corner of the church. While it’s great to be with people who are sharing similar experiences, the most meaningful faith experiences occur when the congregation fully integrates young adults into the life of the church. Encourage older members of your congregation to invite young adults to activities not attended exclusively by people their own age. Recruit young adults into the decision-making process at your church. Explore mentoring relationships and small groups to enable people of different age groups to learn from each other. God walks with different people in different ways; no matter how effective your ministry with young adults, a congregation is best poised to teach its members to better love God and neighbor when people are able to learn from each other’s experiences.