The following article comes from The Office for Young Adult & Campus Ministries at the Episcopal Church Center
More Young Adults, but why?
We’ve heard all about it. We’ve all said it. “We want more young adults in our churches!” But the question we don’t often ask in response is, “Why?” What do we mean by that? Do we mean we ought to have more young adults in our churches (the Great Commission)? Or perhaps, do we mean that we need more young adults in our churches (numbers and num($$$)bers)? Or do we truly mean that we need more young adults in our churches? Messy, energetic, unpredictable, unreliable, idealistic, and hopeful young people? Do we believe we truly have something to offer them? And they us? Before you go out making plans for your big disco, late 90’s CCM Karaoke sing along at the bowling alley, here are some questions to consider with your church, diocese of ministry team, as you figure out what it means for you to truly want young adults in our church:
Who are young adults?
One of the major stumbling blocks to any new ministry is not really knowing who it is we are trying to minister to. Young adults are an incredibly diverse group of people. From 18 to 30 years old, they include high school grads, college students, laborers, young professionals, professional students, graduate students, young parents, couples and single people. Take a look at your church. Who are the young adults already there? Who are those just beyond your walls that you are seeking to reach?
What do young adults need?
We can assume a lot of things about young adults and their needs, but the only way to really know is to ask them. What are they seeking from the church? Our duty is not to replicate or replace structures already present in their lives, but to address the needs that will lead them into the wholeness of personhood to which we are called. What is the brokenness Jesus saw in the world and called us to address? How do we see that brokenness playing out in the lives of young adults?
What do we have to offer?
Our tradition is deep and wide. Our tools extend beyond Sunday morning. Young adults are seeking a new creation, a shinier, better-packaged version of the 1950s church. They are seeking a relevant, authentic spiritual depth, and as a church that embraces, and has always embraced mystery we are well-equipped to address their needs. What specific gifts do we bring to the table as a tradition and an individual churches that can address the needs of the young adults present with us?
What do young adults have to offer the church?
This is perhaps the scariest question. Young adults’ presence and active participation in the church on a large scale will dramatically alter the face and the experience of our communities. Not only will they bring their personal spiritual gifts to our churches, but they will also serve as conduits between the broader culture and our traditions. They will force us to address the ways in which our culture engages and experiences spirituality, meaning and community in indigenous and authentic ways. It is up to us to be both open and discerning, so that we may all be transformed by the exchange.