Jim Sweeney • January 12, 2017
If you ever feel like your church struggles to attract and keep young adults as they transition into adulthood, you’re not alone. Churches around the world struggle with this same thing.
Many young people are less likely than older generations to be religiously affiliated or believers. Some can be resistant to outreach and others are even downright hostile to organized religion. Yet, their participation in the ministry is essential to the future of churches.
So what can you do?
A 2015 report from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research examined the church membership of young adults (ages 18-34). While some of the findings were discouraging, researchers also honed in on churches that have increased young adult participation and drew conclusions that any church can use to draw younger members. This post focuses on three of those conclusions.
Over a third of the congregations surveyed did not have a specific strategy for young adult ministries; conversely, nine of 10 congregations with thriving young adult ministries have some intentional strategy for engaging young adults. The report concluded that “strategy (a plan) and prioritization (taking steps to act on that plan) are both necessary to create thriving young adult ministries.”
Seventy percent of active young adults within any given congregation come from families within that congregation. Though some children stray from the church as they become adults, these individuals will be easier to target and recruit than people with no ties to your church. As such, keeping them engaged should be a priority.
Nearly 70 percent of young adults participate by attending worship and about half participate in programs/activities other than worship. Ministries with thriving young adult communities tend to be those in which its members are more involved in activities beyond worship.
The most common young adult programs/activities in congregations with thriving young adult ministries included fellowship groups, engaging websites, active social media profiles, Scripture study groups, community service, theology or contemporary issue study groups and recreational or sports activities.
Information like this can be valuable to churches, even those with active young adult ministries. For a more complete breakdown on what churches are doing to engage young adults, consider this free report.
Young adults aren't the only demographic your church should be engaging with to expand your ministry. In our series on church growth, we look at other aspects as well.
Here's some further reading you might find interesting:
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