Thursday, January 26, 2006

Young Adults Workshop

I'm leading a workshop on Sunday afternoon called "Ministry of Young Adults." It is a part of our District Lay Leadership Training event.

In the workshop, I am going to refer to the remarks of Missouri's Bishop Robert Schnase that he has posted on the Missouri Conference website. Here is a bit of what he says.
The average age in our conference is 57, the average age in our society is 33.
Each generation speaks a different language.

And more...
A hundred years ago you might have had three generations in church that shared the same preference in worship style, music and entertainment. Now you may have four generations, each with their own distinctive preferences.

In 20 years, we’ve lost 40,000 by simple attrition, but haven’t replaced them. It’s not that everyone just up and left. It’s a front door problem, not a back door problem. The older generations are being asked to do what is so hard: to support music and worship styles that are foreign to them. But we must understand we have to reach these younger generations and there is a limited time to do that.

Do these thoughts ring true for you? I am happy to say that the average age of the new members we recieved here last year is 35. (And that includes one 95 year old woman in the mix!) But the reality to which Bishop Schnase points is alarming, indeed. Speaking in a sweeping, possibly unfair, but nonetheless-containing-a-kernel-of-truth generalization, people in their 20s and 30s talk, look, and think differently than older people. How is the church responding?

So I ask, if you were leading a workshop on "Ministry of Young Adults," what would you say? Or perhaps, if you were attending a workshop on the topic, what would you like to hear?


John B said...

Quoting Alex McMannus from The Relevant Church, "When thinking about the relevance of church, the first question we must ask is whether or not church is still relevant to Jesus Christ."

No matter how relevant, pomo & contemporary we try to be, unless the church is first relevant to Jesus Christ, ie. useful in fulfilling His purposes, our efforts are in vain.

Mike said...

Thanks for posting at my blog. We did find the Discipline helpful in crafting the sermon series.

We have many young adults coming to our church; however, we are in a rapidly growing area and one wonders if it is about effectiveness or context!

We have found that young adults without children are much more likely to desire activities away from the church: like going to a coffee shop or movie and then discussing faith and life issues. They desire to be out and active. This is single and married, but no children. Young adults with children seem to want "all-in-one" ministry sturctures where the whole family can be in one place.

It would seem that real effectiveness would include both models.

adam mustoe said...

As a young adult, I think I crave authenticity. I know this was discussed at the Annual Conference breakout session last June.

I can deal with different worship styles, as long as the leader/choir/preacher whoever is convicted of whatever she/he/they is/are doing. Make sense?

I think it's stupid to think that adding a keyboard or electric guitar will create new disciples. Initially people can be "attracted" to certain aspects of worship, but it's authentic relationships that keep the church growing, not smoke and mirror "modern" worship.

Dave said...

The first thing I would ask is who are the "young adults". What is their age range and make-up?

From my experience the worship music is really important to those at either end of the age spectrum, i.e. teens and 60+. What I have seen that works really well, but it seldom sone for some reason, is putting certain classic hymns to more uptempo music. That can reach across all ages.

Its very difficult to reach the young adults. There's a lot of competition these days that the church didn't have to compete with 15 years ago.

I believe that youngs adults want fellowship with one another. They want thoughtful, interactive discussions, as opposed to passive lectures. They also need activities that can burn of their excess energy.

Take them out into the world and go see a concert, go bowling, see a movie,etc.

The young adults are usually just past that point where they've been told for most of their lives what to and what not to do. They are ready to think for themsleves, and find out who they are. They want to be listened to. They don't want to be told thatthis is wrong or that is wrong, and that they need to follow these rules. They need to experience Jesus in their hearts via outreach programs. Have them help others.

Kansas Bob said...

In relation to the Psalm singing of the old Puritan tunes, the music of Charles Wesley was considered 'pop'. Wesley's music is tuneful, with dance like melodies which were often taken from improvisatory instrumental music. Much of his music had secular origins and influences. He adopted new melodies from the popular opera and English folk melodies. Wesley had no problems mixing the secular and sacred when it came to writing songs to communicate a biblical message.

In my 20's the Gaither's music was a controversial venue for Sunday morning ... today their music is viewed more like songs from the hymnal. In these times ... albeit our culture has changed a lot since Elvis and the Beatles ... I think that it is important to recognize that Sunday morning music must be relevant to younger congregants. Geezers (myself included) just need to suck it up and be happy that younger families are being attracted to our fellowship.

Adam Caldwell said...

I find it interesting that for older individuals the conversation always seems to revolve around music. I don't know, but I think that the Methodist church as a whole, well at least in MO, is behind the "contemporary" music conversation by at least 15 years. Maybe more.

Why are we just now having articles in The Missouri Conference Review paper about how often churches use media in the worship service. That's a 15 year old question and we are just now asking it.

I think Mustoes right. It doesn't matter what type of worship service you have, as long as it is done well and people are authentic. 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.(considering I am a young person.)

I think our issue is too focused on how can we get folks into the doors. It should be focused on how we can get ourselves outside of the doors.

I don't know that the church needs to be an activity center. Young adults don't a youth group style of ministry.

I've said all of this to get to this point: I agree with john b!

Brad said...

Hey bro,
Sorry I'll miss the workshop.
I think the first question any church should ask is who's our audience? who's in our community? Not all churches are called to have a strong young adult ministry. For those whose community has potential for this ministry, I agree with my friends from the band. Authenticity is the key. Putting together a "PRAISE AND WORSHIP TEAM", that's only doing it to increase the numbers of young adults in the pews on Sunday, isn't going to work. Another key point, i think, is using technology that plays into the culture of today. Websites, blogs, even sermon podcasts, will become a very real part of our ministry in the coming years i think.

All that, and electric guitars, should do the trick.

David said...

Just a quick word of caution, because I fell into the trap as well. The average age of our society may be 33, but the fewest individuals in any age group are in that bracket. We are boomer heavy and millenial heavy in age, with the gen Xers in minimal that stated generational gap is greater than it is at two or three generations rather than one.
Best of luck to you.

Kansas Bob said...

One last comment on worship. I strongly agree that our lives are to be an expression of worhip. That said I think that the purpose of "corporate worship" is to exalt and magnify the Lord "together". I think that many songs sung in church these days are dead and are sung in ways that are uninspiring by people who seem to be a personification of the Frozen Chosen ... this type of worship neither exalts nor magnifies the Lord.

When I think about what many of you all are calling 'contemporary' worship songs I think of songs that have life in them ... songs that help the worshipper experience God's presence and actually brings them closer to the Lord. But tell me if I am wrong on this ... do you all experience God's presence singing songs out of a hymnal ... is their loud joyful singing during your services? Just want to get an idea of what you all experience during worship.

Kyle said...

I believe the hardest challenge is getting people through the door. I often wonder why do teens leave the church when they graduate High school and so many never return. Does anyone know the answer? I know I do not. I would say in the case of our church we do not have more 20's and 30's because we are not reaching out to them. There again how do we reach them? They have moved into our community but is knocking on doors or leaving a brochure the best method now?

Mike said...

I honestly think it's shifting our congregations mentality that church is what you do on Sunday. That the church is a people, built on relationships and on Jesus Christ. I find that many people my age will go to coffee shops, or quite frankly, and family-feel type place and talk about deep spiritual and faith issues.

Don't get me wrong I think worship on Sunday (or whenever you do it) is important, but people my age are looking for something much more than that. We want raw, honest, transparent, deep relationships. Many times I see churches promoting their Sunday worship stuff as the main point of why the church exists. That just doesn't interest me as much as the relationships I can build with others and then what we DO about it for Jesus in the world we live.

Many of the comments I receive from younger adults is that our faith just doesn't deal with real life stuff. They always present a lot of great ideas on Sunday morning, but then have nobody to live them out with to see how it works.

Sorry it's stream of consciousness...just my two cents.

Mike said...

Sorry, I meant to say that "church" isn't just what you do on Sunday.

The point was that church isn't a building, but a people.