Saturday, January 28, 2006

Young Adults and the Church: Themes

Thanks for the comments on my last post about the Young Adult workshop I'm leading. I am going to utilize many of your thoughts tomorrow afternoon. I'll be sure to give full credit where it is due ;)

Seems that one important theme is to beware of thinking that the latest gadget, worship trend, or other gimmick is going to fix everything. Adam M. said, "it's authentic relationships that keep the church growing, not smoke and mirror 'modern' worship." Similarly, Adam C. wrote, "The last thing I want to do is cater to the consumer lifestyle by adding a guitar just because I think that is going to get young people." Authenticity and relevance are values that young adults hold in high regard.

Another important theme is to promote an outward focus rather than inward. Kyle asks, "[Young adults] have moved into our community but is knocking on doors or leaving a brochure the best method now?" Dave's practical suggestion was to "take them out into the world and go see a concert, go bowling, see a movie, etc." Before starting any ministry at all, Brad says, "The first question any church should ask is who's our audience. Who's in our community?" In other words, the issue is to reframe the situation from "bringing more young adults into the church" to "taking the church into your community and into the world."

The third theme I hope to be able to communicate tomorrow is that young adults are individuals living in community, not a homogenous generation. For example, Mike pointed out a key difference between young adults who are parents and those who are not. Dave wrote, "[Young adults] are ready to think for themsleves, and find out who they are." Kansas Bob notes that people want a church that helps them "experience God's presence and actually brings them closer to the Lord." And the reality is that each person does that in a way that is personally unique to who they are created to become.

I am going to use scripture, the Book of Discipline, the thoughts of Bishop Schnase, a few case studies, and hopefully a whole lot of group discussion during the session tomorrow. Keep me in your prayers. I'll let you know how it turns out!


John said...

When my parents (who are in their 60s) were young single Christians in their twenties, every church had a place for such people to assemble on weekend nights. There were opportunities for bored young Christians not be bored and alone. That doesn't appear to be "standard issue" at churches anymore. Maybe I have a poor sample, but there seems to be an expectation that Christians will leave the church at 18 (or 22) and come back when 35, married, and with a baby. Maybe we need to return to the older model where the church community existed for all phases of life.

I tried to start such a thing at a previous church, but there were simply no young singles to do it. None. They had already abandoned the church.

adam mustoe said...

andy! i think its great that you got so many comments on yo' blog about a great topic. good luck on your workshop. is there going to be a segment in there about a young adult "singles" ministry and a "young adult" ministry not being synonomous! sometimes i wish we could just have HUMAN ministry instead of: men's, women's, childrens, young adult's, youth, the quilters, the greeters, etc. Sometimes I think that fragments our church's. I think it's necessary, for instance I wouldn't want a 30 year old dude coming to middle school youth group, but this mentality really can hurt "us young folks" when we're imbetween those clear cut stages ya know? I often think about how I would feel at my church if i didn't freaking work there. interesting thought. great stuff andy!