Does Young Adult Ministry Matter?

Brian Johnson serves as Associate Pastor at First United Methodist Church of Orlando. He feels a specific call within his ministry to help the local church reengage with young adults. Connect with him @JohnsonBrian

Most churches do a great job of nurturing children and youth. Even the smallest membership churches find a way to provide ministry for children and youth. We recognize these age groups are important. Then, when these kids reach 18, we set them free into the world and hope they will fly. Some will fly away to college. Others will fly away to work in the real world. We stop seeing them in church. In our subconscious, we know they are busy and hope we will see them again. Statically, they return to have their first child baptized. When young adults do come back to the church they are often emotionally weary, spiritually dry, and battered by the world. Even worse, some do not return.

I am convinced that young adulthood is the most difficult age group to minister to. They do not fit into neat categories. You cannot structure them by grades. Some go to college, others do not. Some are single, others are married. Still others have kids. Some of those will be married, and some will be single parents. To further complicate the issue, the spiritual and developmental needs of a 21 year old are much different than a 31 year old. Yet both are young adults.

Young Adult ministry is not neat and tidy precisely because young adulthood is not tidy. I sense that many churches and leaders shy away from engaging this demographic because it is complicated. However, it is because of the complication that we need to step up, in the boldness of the Spirit, and reclaim young adulthood. We have allowed the world to train and nurture our young adults, and it has left them shipwrecked.

The good news Mary heard from the angel, speaks good news to us today. “Do not be afraid, for nothing will be impossible with God.” Not even ministry to young adults!

The first step to reclaiming young adulthood is prayerful engagement. Our church is situated in the heart of downtown. Orlando is a city growing younger at a surprisingly quick pace. There is a large influx of young adults age 18-24. God’s call to us is to reflect the city. We do not need to pray about whether or not to open our doors to young adults. It is clear the body of Christ includes all life stages. Our prayer involves us connecting our current young adults while engaging the thousands who call Orlando home.

Young adult ministry matters because young adults matter to God. Young adult ministry is essential because we are not the complete body of Christ without them. Young adult ministry is possible because nothing is impossible with God.

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