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Ministry to Young Adults

By Neil Christianson David Kinnaman, author of the book unChristian, tells us that we are operating out of an old model that isn’t effective for young adults today. In his new book You Lost Me, he says that close to 60% of young people who went to church in high school drop out after high school. Why? Barna Research gives us
by Faith+Lead | October 24, 2012

By Neil Christianson

David Kinnaman, author of the book unChristian, tells us that we are operating out of an old model that isn’t effective for young adults today. In his new book You Lost Me, he says that close to 60% of young people who went to church in high school drop out after high school. Why? Barna Research gives us six reasons. You can check out the details online HERE, but the six reasons are:

1. The church is overprotective. They have an isolation mentality “us verses the world.”

2. Christianity is shallow.

3. Churches come across as antagonistic to science.

4. Experiences related to sexuality is often simplistic and judgmental.

5. Exclusive nature of Christianity. One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said, “Church is like a country club, only for insiders.”

6. The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.

When church leaders hears this, their reaction is one of two. Either they minimize it and say, “Well, they’ll just come back to the church when they get married and have their own kids.” Or they have a panic attack and overreact. Like reacting to an outbreak of anthrax that must be isolated and sterilized. They create a separate “youth” group just for them. “Well, it worked for them when they were in high school, why not just keep doing the same things?”

Neither approach is helpful. We know from research that young adults are not returning to the church after college. And a “youth group” style of ministry doesn’t address the social and spiritual changes and challenges that they are facing as young adults.

Kinnaman’s book You Lost Me, suggest some things to think about on how we can be more effective. He argues for a more collaborative and intergenerational effort. Yes, this may sounds simplistic but he argues that most churches approach generations with a hierarchal, top-down manner, rather than a most postmodern view of shared power. This means we must stop using phrases such as “passing on the faith to the next generation”. Think about your own church. How many times have you used this phrase yourself in the past month? I know that I have.

I know that we are all stretched just focusing on student ministry and children’s ministry. But without someone to tend to young adults, are we being faithful to our calling? How can we partner with other staff members, churches and adults to meet this growing need?

Join the conversation on Facebook.com/FirstThird!

Neil Christians is the Director of the Family Ministry Team at Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC. He has been in paid children,youth and family ministry for 20 years and is passionate about mentoring others in a life of faith. Other passions include Harry Potter, movie clips and his favorite band Switchfoot. So, watch for references to these in his blog posts. 

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