Insights on Ministering to Young AdultsPosted on September 22nd, 2011.
How Do I Start a Young Adult Ministry?
First and foremost, know your audience. Things that will work in New York City are not going to work in rural Georgia. Often times there is even a large difference in culture and values from town to town. Be a student of your community, observe what people talk about the most, attend events, and discover what is important to the community. Incorporate those aspects into your mission, vision, and program.
Get to know the characteristics of the age group. Brush up on Barna studies and national statistics. There is plenty of information available that will help you to know the strengths of this generation and how you can use that to the ministry’s advantage, as well as the drawbacks and what you need to be prepared for.
Ask a group of young adults to meet with you. Bring them into the planning process. Ask them what they would like to see happen and what events their friends would like to come to. Put them in charge of an area of ministry (no matter how large or small) to give them ownership. Young adults need to get plugged in or else they will feel like they are not needed and they will not stick around. Have this group of people invite their friends and help get the word out.
Do not name the ministry any thing churchy or use a word that’s hard to remember. Most Greek or Hebrew words will fall into this category. You want it to be something that is easy for people to recall and pass on to others. Get creative and use something original. It might take extra time, but it will be worth the effort. Decide who you want to be and what you want to see happen and have the name be an extension of this vision.
Design an excellent logo. Young adults are drawn to marketing. Use all of the forms of media you can. Create a Facebook group, join Twitter, start a blog, get a website, and saturate these pages with the logo and the information for the ministry.
Outreach Ideas for Young Adults
Live your life on purpose. Be intentional wherever you are. Get a job and get to know people. Join a gym. Volunteer somewhere that young adults frequent. Have people on your team move into different apartment complexes and get to know their neighbors. You never know who God will place in your path. Keep close to the Holy Spirit and He will tell you when to speak and when to keep quiet. Build relationships, listen to the perspective of others before you share yours, be a person of integrity, and care about what is going on in the lives of others. This is the kind of outreach this generation needs. As a whole, young adults do not respond to tracks, street evangelism, and even apologetics. Young adults are skeptical, suspicious, and like to find a reason not to like you. Don’t give them that chance.
Bible Study Ideas for Young Adults
Many young adults have grown up not going to church or having any church involvement. A lot of people in your ministry will not have a good understanding of the Bible. Therefore, it is best to simply use the Bible to study the Bible. Pick out a passage and prepare five to ten questions. Get together as a group and read the passage aloud. Begin by asking the question – what stuck out to you and why? From there, discuss the prepared questions. Doing the study in this format equips people to be able to study the passage on their own. Use this time to teach them how to use the study aids in their Bible. www.biblegateway.com is a great resource. It allows you to search keywords for Bible passages and read the Bible online. www.blueletterbible.com is another great resource. It has a Hebrew/Greek lexicon. You can click on the original word and find out where else that word was used in the Bible and what it meant in those passages. This is called a word study. You can also teach them about following the references listed to unlock the history and/or a deeper understanding of that verse and passage.
Serving Ideas for Young Adults
Young adults are more likely to serve OUTSIDE of the church than IN it. Cleaning up after a church dinner is much less appealing than cleaning up after an A.I.D.S. in Africa benefit. Young adults want to serve, but they want to serve for something they care about and is often humanitarian related. They are also more likely to serve at an event sponsored by the community because they are serving people who need to know Christ, not people that already do. Find community events that align with your vision. Cast vision to get involved in your community and ask them to volunteer at those events. They will feel like they are giving their “precious” time to something that really matters.
12 Things to “Know” about Young Adults
(As a vast generalization):
1) They have a sense of entitlement. Everyone has always told them the world was theirs for the taking and life has been pretty easy. They expect things to be easy and go their way.
2) They are flaky. Until they feel truly committed to something, they have a tendency to go back on their commitments.
3) They care about social issues. People in this age group are more likely to give to humanitarian causes then tithing or things within the church.
4) They are insecure. This age group puts on a good front of self-assurance and self-sufficiently, but deep down they want to be known. They want someone to love them unconditionally. They feel pressured to achieve the American dream. When this does not pan out, they feel worthless.
5) Their first instinct is to be skeptical. People have made promises that they did not follow through with. Morality has become a relative concept that one can chose to follow until a better option presents itself. Young Adults have watched leaders fail and are leery of what people say. Actions speak louder than words.
6) They like Jesus, but not the church. They view organized religion as a man-made creation. They belief the church has distorted what Christ was all about.
7) They are self-centered. This period in their life is all about finding themselves, achieving what they want to, traveling the world, and getting ahead. This perspective tends to lead them to neglect the things that their parents valued at this age, such as commitment to well…anything – church, a spouse, kids, a town, a job, friends, community responsibilities, etc.
8) They are media driven – Via the internet they receive their information, connect socially, meet their significant others, find jobs, are swayed in their beliefs, etc.
9) They are graphically driven – If your company does not have a good graphic, you will not randomly attract any young adult.
10) They want simplicity – Young adults are trying to figure out their future. There are so many options available. The world has been their oyster. This often leads to a sense of overwhelm. When they come to church, they want simplicity. Their life is already too busy, too complicated, too confusing, and too stacked with possibility. Simple seems more real and easier to connect with.
11) They have delayed adulthood – Their parents have remained helicopter parents, hovering over them to help out financially and emotionally at a moments notice. If they do not feel like growing up, they do not have to because they can always move back in with their parents and/or receive financial assistance.
12) They are mobile – Do not expect them to be around long. If you let this get to you, you will easily become discouraged. Don’t worry, new young adults will always move in as others are moving out.
Check out more Young Adult Handbooks
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