How to Reach Young Adults

How to Reach Young Adults

The following is taken from an article by Anthony B. Robinson about Generation Next, posted on Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership column. 

8 Tips For Reaching Young Adults

1. Make it spiritual
The core business of religion is — surprise — religion; we’re not a social club, civic organization or political party. Honestly ask, “Are we growing spiritually, in faith and discipleship?” “Are we offering others opportunities to deepen faith?”

2. A corollary: Make it about God
People want to experience the holy, the divine, the sacred. They are dying for want of grace, wonder, mystery — not for want of bylaws, committees or sign-up sheets. At least, they don’t want those things instead of God.

3. Make it personal
Faith has to mean something in my daily life. If church deals only in vague pieties and abstractions without personal connection, forget it. If phrases like “Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior” or the Lord’s Prayer are just the liturgical version of Muzak, you have a problem — and an opportunity for change.

4. Make it real, authentic
We no longer live in a world where many people go to church out of a sense of social obligation. Just going through the motions, checking off boxes on the “to-do” list won’t do it. What are the issues and questions people are facing and struggling with? What light does the gospel shed on them?

5. Value the power of cross-generational community and relationships
Increasingly, we live in mono-generational enclaves. Speak of the importance of friendship and contact across the generations and then live that out in the way you do church.

6. Make it work for busy lives
Time is the new currency; don’t ask people to waste it. This is particularly true in many young or single-parent families, where people are working full time plus. Offer more short-term ways to engage, such as one-day mission projects, two- or three-week study series. Offer activities for parents to do with their kids.

7. Get over the idea that every member has to be on a committee
…or otherwise involved in management, programs or policies. Remember the old Reformed teaching that the first call of laity is to “present Christ to and for the world,” through their work, their relationships and their citizenship. The primary job of those in the congregation is not to manage the church (though we need some people to be involved in that way). Their primary job is to live their faith in home, workplace and community.

8. Make congregational leadership a spiritual-growth and relationship-building experience
That means preparing people to serve as spiritual leaders, then allowing them to function as spiritual leaders. Make room for new people and new ideas. Sometimes in opening up to others we open up to and for God.

It’s not easy to engage Generation Next. But it’s important. And who said being the church was going to be easy?


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