Emerging adults are a special kind of moving target. How can churches meet them where they are, supporting them in their transitions without condescension? Practical considerations for engaging young adults and the whole of the Christian community.
There are plenty reasons why pizza is an ideal food for youth groups. It arrives ready-to-eat; most people like it (vegetarians included); and it can be very cost effective, depending on the deal you have with your local pizza place. But pizza can wear a little thin (get it?). We asked Blake Woods* and Randall Curtis*, both experts with years of youth and young adult ministry experience: what are the other options for feeding a group?
It seems like churches are constantly asking, "How can we attract more young people?" While this opens a larger conversation, one starting point is to consider how your congregation welcomes (or would welcome) young adults when they walk through your door. While many churches have created welcoming environments and ways to greet visitors, these policies can be updated to better welcome the millennial population. So what are people in their 20s (or 30s) thinking about as they come to church? Here are some hopes and fears, and ways to address them:
Most congregations honor their graduating high schoolers—a blessing in church and a cake at coffee hour, and maybe the gift of a prayer book. But once graduated, how well does your congregation stay in touch? Those who go off to college or the military are only ever seen again for an hour on Christmas Eve, if at all. Those who don’t move away from home may feel that there are fewer resources in the parish to meet their needs.
Young people are not looking for the easy path in life. They don’t mind a challenge – it is too often us who fear the challenge. They are not looking for the path of least resistance.
Make a point to meet and speak to college students when they come to church. Feeling welcomed is the #1 concern of students who attend a new church.
It isn't rocket science to put the generational theorists, the headlines, and today's societal hunger to see what we should be focusing on in our churches.
There's a subtle movement underfoot in many of our cities. Young adults are putting their faith into action by living in faith communities that exist to serve those in the neighborhood in which they live.
With the beauty and power of art by John August Swanson and the insight from Emory University's Candler School of Theology about the sacred text for the gospels, you can journey alongside Jesus as he journeys to the cross.
When the classic question in a conversation “What book would you bring to a desert island?” is asked, the Bible seems to be the number one answer. How do we read this collection of 66 books without outside information? How do we make the contents worshipful, relevant — even inspirational?
There are days in my life when two conflicting worlds come crashing together. Love and hate. Conflict and peace. Wellness and illness. Scarcity and abundance. This was one of those days.
Our kids are leaving our churches not because of something “out there,” not because of “the culture,” but because we are teaching them in our churches that faith is unimportant in everyday life, that religious identity is private and largely decorative, and that religious commitment is mostly about being nice and feeling good about oneself and others.
It’s not easy to engage Generation Next. But it's important. And who said being the church was going to be easy?
Churches I visit are always looking for new programs or new curricula that will draw in young adults. I have heard ideas ranging from burning more incense to using television screens to entice the young crowd. But I firmly believe that no matter how melodic your chanting or how amazing your PowerPoint slideshow . . . that is not what attracts young adults.
Choosing a curricular resource is an important decision. It is one that you can hopefully live with for at least two or three years. But remember, curriculum (currere = a course to be run) is a tool to help you and your student get from "one place to another." It is hopefully one of a variety of resources you will tap into to help others along their spiritual journey and faith development.
Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way. I used to not like God because God didn't resolve.
There is a recognition that faith is not "sticking" with many young people after they've been given that graduation bible to take with them on the next stage of their journey.
It's that time of year when we are gearing up to begin Church School and programs in our churches. It's also a time of gathering leaders for training and support to start the year off with everyone fresh, with renewed energy after a summer hiatus.
A vibrant Episcopal congregation in metropolitan Washington D.C. grew frustrated with their paltry number of adult small groups. They were even more frustrated with the paltry number of adults who participated in small groups!
Just as individuals go through stages of development over our lifetimes so do groups. As you put together small groups for the upcoming year, it is important to their health that you provide your leaders with training and leadership development.