Concerns about reaching young adults for the church came up in three different conversations in which I was involved last week. One was an online peer group call with ministers who have a particular interest in this demographic. Another was with the minister of Christian formation in a local congregation who wants to make sure that these folks are included in church life. The third conversation was with leaders from several states who seek to raise funds for collegiate ministries in areas where Baptists have limited resources.
Of course, when we talk about young adults, we often neglect the diversity within the age group. The demographic included singles, married couples, single parents, college and university students, graduate students, blue collar workers, young professionals, and military personnel (just to name a few). This is not a monolithic group although they share many characteristics. Some may resist be considered as part of a “young adult” demographic but this is the way we tend to think and plan in religious circles.
Why is the church so interested in reaching this group? I can think of several reasons.
First, there is the matter of survival. As one person has said, “The church is always one generation away from death.” As a living and dying organism, the ranks of the Christian faithful must be continually replenished with new or restored believers. Young adults who are making choices about their commitments and lifestyles are a particularly attractive source for “new blood.”
Second, some leaders are motivated by a desire to bring young adults into fellowship with Christ. Although this may overlap somewhat with the previous reason, this concern is more motivated by sharing the love of God than sustaining an organization, even if it is the Body of Christ. They want young adults to experience salvation and a daily walk with God.
Third and certainly related to the other two is to nurture young adults in the Christian faith so that they may become part of God’s people and be involved in the work of the Kingdom of God. This takes more of the long view that becoming a believer is part of a lifelong process of discovery and service.
Whatever our motivation, we will continue to discuss, plan, and attempt ways to connect with young adults and bring them into the family of God.