Young adult ministry is different than other age-level ministries in the church because it encompasses people going through some of the biggest life-changes that they will in life. Young adults are defined as folks aged 18-35. This age range can include high school graduation, going to college, starting a job, getting married, moving away from family, becoming more independent, having children, college/graduate school graduation, getting divorced, purchasing a home, and so on.
Young adults are tricky for churches to understand not simply because of all the change occurring in their life but also because of generational differences. Young adults fall into the end of the Postmodern generation and take up most of the Millennial generation. Young adults grew up with computers and internet in their homes, don’t remember life pre-9/11, and have experienced war for most of their adult lives. They have a delayed adulthood because of the Great Recession and struggle to understand their future. Family, which includes chosen family, friends, and a close support network, is very important to young adults.
Authenticity and questions rather than answers are important to young adults. Rather than focusing on worship style, the church can be providing an authentic and safe place for young adults to ask questions and create community. This often looks very different than a young adult or singles ministry did for our Pioneer or Baby Boomer counter-parts. Young adult ministries now often flourish outside of fellowship hall. Young adults prefer to meet in coffee houses, bars, and homes over Sunday school classrooms.
The adult population of Millennials makes up only 11% of our United Methodist Churches and unlike Gen Xers will not likely come back after marriage and children. If the church is going to reach young adults, it needs to be now, not “when they come back.”
We will address how to tackle young adult ministry in a post later this week, but for now, I want to share WHERE our young adults are. This map shows the population concentration of young adults (ages 25-34) within the confines of our Central Texas Conference.
As you can see, there are a lot of areas with blue and yellow – are the churches in those areas addressing the needs of the young adults living in their community? How does your church treat young adults? How would you suggest a church within our conference to begin a young adult ministry?