I am loving the guests posts from the last few weeks. There is strong agreement across the Church that young adult ministry truly matters if we are going to be all that God intends for us. In the coming months, you will hear more perspectives that will continue to bring awareness to the conversation of reaching young adults. But the question many are asking is simply, ‘what do we do first?’ The answer will always depend on the particulars of the local congregation, available resources, leadership, and specific need just to name a few. There is no “one size fits all” model for intentional young adult ministry. But a good starting place could be to have the courage to intentionally pursue young adults.
There are few congregations that do not want fresh faces in their worshiping community. In fact, the reason why young adult ministry is so important is that most of us are interested in doing it. We consume books, conferences, and podcasts hoping to find tools and tips. Knowledge, however, is not the thing that brings young adults through the door. The other option is to start some kind of event for young adults. Far too many local churches have started contemporary services thinking that young adults will be “attracted” to them by simply putting it on the sign out front. We argue for designated space in the building and better media equipment hoping that some extra lights and a few couches will be the key to engaging the next generation. All of these things are good and helpful, but they do not ensure a vibrant ministry to young adults. In fact, you can have lots of relevant knowledge of the demographic and the best show in town, and still have a problem of reaching and keeping young adults. So what might be a better strategy?
Years ago, Gee and Sandy Sprague, the pastors of CrossRoad Church, used to open their home on Tuesday nights for a college/young adult Bible Study. Every week, they would provide a meal for twenty-somethings which was followed by a Bible Study and conversation. When it first began, it had a handful of people. It was not odd for the 7pm Bible Study crowd to still be at the house as late as 1am. Within three years, you would have found over 50 young adults crammed into their house. Due to the large numbers, we eventually started a college/young adult worship service on Tuesday nights at the church. The important thing we need to see in this example though, is how it all started.
A couple from the local church opened up their home to a handful of young adults EVERY WEEK. During the rest of the week, you were sure to find young adults just hanging out at their house. Sandy would take girls to lunch. Gee would ask the guys to come help him with household chores. They were really intentional about reaching out on an individual level. And why did they do this? They were not in charge of young adult ministry and it was not their job, it was what they did. They believed that young adult ministry mattered, so they invested hours and square footage. It was one life reaching out to another. That is how the young adult ministry started, grew and expanded.
Again, the point of this example is not for you to go find a home and have a weekly Bible Study that lasts till the wee hours of the morning. The point is that no bulletin announcement or website can take the place of one person authentically and consistently reaching out to young adults. It is not enough to talk about wanting to reach young adults. If you really want twenty-thirty somethings to be a part of your local church, your foundational strategy must be to reach out to them and pursue them as individuals. This way is harder, more time consuming, and more rewarding in the long run.
– Derrick Scott III – Leader, Reclaim Planning Team