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Curator Aaron Spiegel
For The CRG Created For The CRG
Young Adults and Your Congregation

Is your congregation seeking to reach out to young adults? Many congregations are. There can be both excitement and anxiety about engaging the generation commonly called millennials.

Not every congregation is going to be seen as a possible faith home for a 25-year-old. There are so many variables. There are so many roadblocks. The variables and roadblocks include practical matters like time of worship, location, congregational demographics and much more. The variable and roadblocks also include sacred factors like style of worship, theological worldview, opportunities for service and much more.

Level of religiousness

In the book Souls in Transition by Christian Smith with Patricia Snell, the authors summarize the dynamics that make it most likely for a teenager with strong faith to become a young adult with what they call low “religiousness.”

The statistical data is impressive and a bit overwhelming. If I’m reading it correctly, there are three primary factors that lead a teenager with high religiousness to becoming a young adult with low religiousness. These factors are lack of strong parental ties to religion, doubts about faith, and decrease in the practicing of faith activities, such as worship, prayer and service.

The authors note that consistent high religiousness of young adults contain the same dynamics, but expressed positively. Check out Chapter 8 of Souls in Transition, which was produced by the authors noted above and Kyle Longest.

Welcoming young adults

These results suggest some principles for congregations that want to be in relationship with young adults. The principles include:

Additionally, relationships and a sense of community are important to young adults. Young adults want to contribute to the design of programs. They don’t want congregational life all organized for them.

Engaging the individuals

These are principles. There are no best practices providing a magical answer for your congregation and its relationship to young adults. In fact, the use of the word “they” is a sign of the challenge. In this short piece, I’m already referring to young adults as an undifferentiated mass of folks.

You will know your congregation is engaging young adults when this group is no longer a “they,” but people with names and faces: Jill, Jose, L.D, Samson, Lori and a holy host of others.

This is sacred ground. There is much to absorb. If you are interested in learning more about your congregation and young adults, search young adults on the CRG.

I recommend these two books: Souls in Transition and You Lost Me.

article
Engaging Young Adults
This data-packed report contains a summary of factors essential for improving young adult ministries.
book
The Seasons of Adult Faith Formation
This resource offers insight into serving adults in congregations, bringing together experts in faith formation, adults education, generational studies, and congregational life.
article
Gateway to Church for Young Adults
This article highlights the ministry of Charlotte/One, an ecumenically-based ministry in North Carolina that brings together young adults.
web resource
Adult Milestones Modules
This website offers discussion guides for adult milestones, such as buying a home or retiring.
article
Young Adult: Taking a Coalition Approach to Young Adult Ministry
This brief article provides rationale and models for imaginative and fruitful engagement with and by young adults today.
book
Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
This resource sheds light on the rich rewards of a life that is filled with failure, arguing that failure is the only way up.
article
Caring for Wellbeing of Older Adults during COVID-19
This list provides ideas for coordinating care and connection for senior adults during COVID-19.
article
Engaging Young Adults: A Resource from the Center for Congregations
Published by the Center for Congregations, this four-page article shares insights from Indiana congregations that are successfully engaging young adults.
book
Reaching Single Adults: An Essential Guide for Ministry
This guide for congregational leaders addresses how to minister to and with single adults.
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