For many churches, reaching young adults can be a challenging and daunting task. However, it is possible for any church to reach young adults if they invest time into building meaningful relationships with them.
In his book “Unlabeled 2,” Oklahoma Baptists Collegiate Ministries Director Cris Lowery wrote, “Those churches who see young adults as people uniquely created by God and worthy of their time and effort will find themselves being attractive to this segment of our population.”
This requires intentional effort. As your church seeks to reach young adults, you might consider thinking through the two following areas.
Develop a culture of healthy community
People need people. No matter the stage in life, people are looking to build friendships. When young adults look back on their college, military or work experience, they are not likely to remember a certain lesson in a Bible study or sermon. They will remember the people they met, the community they formed and the memories they made together.
Lowery said, “Beginning a relationship is the first step and can happen in any area of your life where at least one young person is present. From these relationships, ministry begins to happen. You simply need to look around in the world God has placed you. Look for those young adults He has already placed in your circle of influence and begin to build the kind of relationship that will make a difference for eternity.” Fostering a community where young adults can develop meaningful friendships is vital to ministry with them.
One of the greatest things a church can offer young adults is multi-generational relationships. Do not silo them off in their own little bubble. They need friends who are older and more experienced in life who can provide wisdom and council for them. They need friends their own age to walk through life together. They also need to be investing in people younger than them, and this generation is looking for meaningful places to invest their time and energy.
Develop a clear front (digital) door to your ministry
The front door of your church is the first place people go when they connect with your church. Studies have found that seven out of 10 people will visit your church’s website before they visit your church in person.
James Emery White of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, N.C. said, “Today, the typical first-time guest to your church is coming at the end of a long process. It may be their first time through the physical front door, but the actual front door of the church—the first one they entered—was digital.”
Young adults will explore your church on social media and online before they step foot in your church’s physical building. The need for personal invitations is still as important as it has ever been, but once the invitation is made, the online process will begin for that person.
Some questions to consider: Who is the target audience of your church’s website? Is your website aimed at church members or as a welcome mat for newcomers? What about social media? This generation lives on social media. What does your social media communicate about your church? Is what you post on social media going to make them want to keep exploring and untimely show up in person?
Reaching young adults might take rethinking a few strategies for your church, but it is worth the effort. See them as people as worthy of your time, investment and prayers.
For further resources please contact the Baptist Collegiate Ministries/Emerging Generations office at 405/942-3800 Ext. 4519. To obtain a free copy of Cris Lowery’s books, “Unlabeled” and “Unlabeled 2,” email Carissa Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.