Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Is Young Adult Ministry an Extension of Youth Group?

There are all sorts of churches available to young adults. Some are big, some are small, some are in big cities and others in rural towns.  Most do not have a specific young adult ministry and if they do they generally lump anyone under the age of 45 together and call them the young adult Sunday school class.  This is not all bad, let's be honest some of these churches and towns honestly don't have a young adult demographic.

But what about those churches that do?  There are many churches that do have young adult ministries.  Some are quit healthy examples of good ministry and good fellowship.  But one thing I have noticed about young adult groups is they look a lot like youth groups. Pictures of young energetic 20 somethings eating ice cream, going bowling, having group picnics at parks, and traveling together to go to a game or movie seem to line the walls of many young adult ministry areas.  Young adult rooms have couches and coffee/tea makers and flat screen tvs.  Some even have video game units and play board games together.  Many of these young adults still live at home...a topic for another post perhaps.  The only thing that seems to separate the young adults from the youth group are diplomas and college debt (which why so many live at home).

My simple observation leads me to simply ask, is this wrong?  Is this bad?  Is this what it means to be a young adult in faith, ice cream, movie nights, and being groomsmen in each others weddings? Is the reason we can't seem to "attract" and "keep" young adults to our churches because we treat them like 16 year olds with jobs?
Are we engaging them in deep theological conversation or are we bathing them in ice cream and movie nights and wondering why they are walking out the door?  Do we look at our young adults and see key ministry area leaders or as young people with the energy to be chaperons to youth functions?  Are we fostering an environment where people are challenged to mature not only as adults but also as ministers?

So I am throwing that out there for conversation in the comment section below.  What is your take on young adult ministry?  Useful or useless?  Why or why not?  Is it an extension of youth group like some third phase of adolescents (jr. high, sr. high, young adult) or is it a unique form of ministry?  How can we make young adult ministry better?  What are some of the pitfalls you have experienced or avoided.  Comment below and share your thoughts.

Some Web-Links to browse through this week

Single in your late twenties or early thirties...No problem.  Read how being single is good.
“Single adults cannot be seen as somehow less fully formed or realized human beings than married persons because Jesus Christ, a single man, was the perfect man"
Do you have a job or a calling? There is a difference.  I know I struggled with just having jobs before embracing my calling.
Those who are careerists focus more on the advancements and prestige of their work. Their level of job satisfaction tends to revolve around their perception of whether or not they are getting ahead at the pace they expect.
“But people with callings are different,” Barnett continues. “They see their work as a positive end in itself. They feel good about what they're doing. They give more to their work. They get more from it.”
Only 2% of Church goers ever invite someone to join them in worship. This is a staggering number.  When was the last time you invited someone to join you in church.
So if you’re a person in the pew not inviting anyone to church, it’s time to ask why not. Maybe you’re scared they’ll say no, maybe you’re embarrassed of your church, maybe you just don’t think about it. Or maybe like a lot of us in Christian circles, you just don’t have that many unchurched friends you can invite.I always tell my kids either stop complaining about a problem or fix it. 
23 Year old Michael Wear to head Obama's "Faith vote outreach."  When I was 23 I was...well not helping elect anyone to office. Certainly not being placed on a national religious stage.
Michael R. Wear, who has worked in the White House for the past three and half years, will move to Chicago to become the campaign's Faith Vote director next week, White House officials confirmed on Monday (May 14).
Trouble with Staffing Churches continues to be the norm rather than the oddity.  There are a myriad of factors but many churches are starting to rethink how and why they hire staff.
...healthy congregations are discovering that a significant part of their staff’s time must be devoted to engagement with their community, rather than simply servicing the wants and desires of the congregation’s members. Being a congregation on a mission to transform a community requires staff that ventures outside the property lines of the church daily. Healthy congregations encourage this and welcome it. 
Having trouble understanding Religions mixture with Politics over the past 30 years?  Here is a book that might help you better grasp what happened and the bag young adults are left holding.
people are reacting, not necessarily to the church, but to the culture-warring mentality that pervades the church.
New Testament Professor, Author, and Blogger Scot McKnight shares some thoughts on The book linked just above.
The single biggest mistake of the neo-evangelical coalition, and here I’m thinking of the late 70s through the 80s and into the 90s, was its decision to glue itself to the Republican Party. Led by the architects — Francis Schaeffer, James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson — neo-evangelicalism lost its single-minded evangelical focus. Instead, it was intoxicated with the potential power in winning the culture war, and nothing represented its hope more than overturning Roe v. Wade. (That never happened, as you know.)

1 comment:

  1. I generally don't read or comment on blogs -- but your topic today intrigued me and it's a vital theme. Thanks for writing it! I feel in many ways the congregation I am serving -- like many other churches -- has failed at discipling their young people and most young people don't hang around until they are adults. We had a miracle happen this past year. Suddenly we had ministry begining to appear among our young adults (25-31 yrs). It is not ministry TO this group, but ministry BY them. As I met with Nate and Ryan and began to converse with them about how they saw the unveiling of their ministry of service called "Living Kingdom Ministry", I challenged them to be sure and include the element of discipleship in their ministry. Our young adult group began not so much as a youth group extension, but rather a place of satisfying a hunger. These two guys, as well as the other young adults at Second Baptist seem to be ready to "go deep." After completing some Rob Bell (Shallow), we moved on to Francis Chan's "Crazy Love" (spiritually challenging) and we have now have begun C.S. Lewis' "Screwtape Letters" (Wow! DEEP). While we occasionally socialize together, the social is more secondary to coming together for prayer and study. I'm amazed by this whole process and realize that I had nothing to do with it. This is a God thing.

    I think youth programs over the past 30 years did a lot to create the dearth of disciples. Competition among churches and new glitzy youth ministry resources caused youth pastors to feel the pressure and temptation to become an entertainment source for their youth. Even with these attractive programs, attendance of post-high school 20-somethings continued to decline once they said farewell to their youth groups and headed off to college. Somewhere we missed the opportunity of communicating to our youth that there is more to the Christian life than ski trips and lockins.