Every church wants to increase the number of young adults in its congregation. But what really makes a church effective in reaching the next generation of young adults? In Matthew 19:14, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Most of today’s young generations are less likely than older generations to be religiously inclined. Some are resistant to outreach and others are even hostile to religions. Yet, younger generation’s participation in the ministry is essential to the future of churches.
How do you attract young adults to your church?
Many churches have already tried and succeeded in bringing more and more young people in. When asked about their strategy, the underlying theme is simple. How do you attract young adults to your church? The answer is Authenticity and Connection. Youth who felt “at home” and “safe” at their churches and youth ministries were most likely to stay actively involved. Genuine friendships within the ministry, from the pastors to the members play a vital role in ensuring the attainment of your goal. Youth would be much more likely to open up to a group of people bounded by a mutual affection towards each other rather than a group of people just bounded by the fact that they are members of the same institution. Youth who felt that youth activities and meetings were filled with meaningful teaching, discussion, worship
How can you turn your church into a safe haven for the youth?
Before you succeed in drawing the interest of the youth into your church, there are a few things that you have to keep in mind:
- Why are you doing this?
The key to success is making sure that your intentions are in the right place. Why do you want younger people in your church? Having lots of youth members in your church have numerous benefits. An increase in number of younger church members could also increase the prominence and relevancy of your community. Teenagers have a certain unique influence over the general populace. With more and more teens attracted to your church, it would be easier for you to recruit more members. Since the youth are the leaders of next generation, they are also vital in ensuring that your church would continue to strive and flourish in the future. However, if these benefits are the only reason why you’re after them, then you might want to take a step back and re-evaluate. Young generations are in utmost need of guidance during this time of their lives. If giving them what they need isn’t at the top of your reasons
- It’s not something that could happen overnight.
Fostering genuine relationships is a lot of work. You can’t just walk up to someone and expect them to break down their walls for you, just like that. Friendships require love, trust, and respect – all of which cannot be simply given on the get go. You can’t rush these things and expect a good outcome. As the case when building anything worthwhile, it needs time. Don’t push it. You need to be patient. Start small, a simple smile or hello could be a start of something everlasting. Always make sure that you are easing young adults into your church in their own pace. This way you could make sure that any kind of church project participation they will give is a product of their own eagerness and not of pressure.
- It needs shared commitment.
It takes an entire village to raise a child. Similarly, guiding the youth towards the path of God is a shared responsibility that involves the entire church community, not just their parents or the pastors. Every single member of the church is a stakeholder and must have the same dedication towards making the church a safe haven. A collaborative effort is needed to guarantee that these young adult are given the best possible experience with the church community. They need to feel welcomed and cared for, not only by the pastors, but also by their peers that they would be spending a lot of time with during the service.
- Approach it with an open mind and open heart.
The thing that makes young adult special is their ability to see things in a new perspective. So if they bring up things that might stray from tradition, don’t hesitate to listen. “Old” doesn’t always mean right and “different” doesn’t really mean wrong. Change isn’t always a villain. Sometimes, change means development and improvement. The best thing you can do is to open both your mind and your heart to every story and every idea. By doing so, you’re not only giving them the opportunity to be heard but you are also giving yourself the chance to learn and understand.
- Lastly, don’t expect them to come to you. Instead, go to them.
Younger generation is in the period of wandering. And when one is lost, you can’t expect them to find their way on their own. For them to reach their destination, you need to show them the way. Take them home. Successful youth work involves going out to where young people are. To establish relationships wherein young people will realize that the church belongs to them, and it is their home.
What can you do to engage young adults in your church?
Below are some ideas that you could start with
Partnerup with other institutions.
In light of making the church as accessible as possible for the youth, establishing partnerships with other organizations in the community is a good way to start. Teaming up with schools, local government units, or non-governmental organizations and launching a joint project would not only boost your church engagements but also serve the community that you are a part of. Doing so would also give you a platform to bring the church closer to people
Initiate projects that would spark sincere connections within your members. Have a group dinner weekly just for the sake of catching up, with no formal agenda. Organize a cell group where young adults can talk to each other and discuss
3. Promote Youth Volunteer Mission
Believe it or not, young adults are eager to take on responsibilities. They love to feel that their existence matters, that they are just important as anybody else. And what better way to make them feel validated than trusting them enough to give them a responsibility? Let them have a bigger role within your church. Let them become leaders in their own right. Urge them to participate in several community projects. Almost every community has mission agencies. Have your ministry keep a list of places for youth and young adults to volunteer. Encourage young people to speak up and let their voices be heard. Empower them to get out of their comfort zones and be the best possible version of themselves. Young adults will enrich their lives as they work with friends and help their community. Inspire them to grow.
4. Decorate The Worship Space
Try decorating the worship space to look cozier and folksier. When a place radiates comfort and familiarity, it’s easier to generate the feeling of intimacy within those that are in it. Young people yearn for the kind of warmth that doesn’t have anything to do with temperature. To put it another way, you don’t need to blast Christian rock songs on full volume to get their attention. You don’t have to make every worship session look like a PG-13 rave for them to feel immersed. You don’t have to excessively slip in modern slangs on your preaching and sermons for them to listen and get your message. Contrary to stereotypes, younger generations are not at all shallow. They do not need a church that looks “cool”. They need a church that feels warm.
Young people may be in the period of getting lost, but it is also the period of being found. They need a church that would always welcome them with open arms. They need a church that would value what they have to say. They need a church that would listen to their stories. They need a church that would never judge. They need a church that would genuinely love them and care for them. They need a church that makes them feel like they belong. They need a church that feels like family. Young people have many gifts and talents to offer the church. We just need to invite and encourage them. Be a place that gives permission to God’s young people.