How Can Your Church Engage With Young Adults?

Oftentimes churches devote substantial time, energy and resources into their children and youth ministries. These are two very valuable ministries, but what happens when a student ages out of these minorities into young adulthood? While some churches have created robust young adult ministries, the reality is, most churches are missing the mark. 

After years of intentional programming, leadership, and discipleship, most young adults are thrown into the no man’s land of being a young adult in the church. You’re now too old for the youth ministry you loved but feel way too young and out of place within most of the adult ministries. 

Lifeway research has found that two-thirds of church-attending teenagers drop out as young adults and many of those rarely, if ever, come back.

How do you avoid this common pitfall? How can your church engage and support young adults?

In this post we will explain why it is so important to engage young adults in your congregation and a few simple ways you can start to do so today.  

What is the Next Generation?

Of course when using the term next generation, we could be referring to a broad spectrum of people that are changing over time. We are striving that this information will be applicable for churches for years to come, but at this point in time when we talk about the next generation we are talking about Millennials and Gen z. 

Millennials have been such a popular generation for many reasons and unfortunately in some people’s mind, the word millennials has gotten a negative connotation. We want to send out the reminder now that millennials are now between the ages of 23-38 and make up 35% of the US workforce. While they are no longer the up and coming generation, 56% of millennials aren’t married which can put them in a unique category within the church. 

The real up and comers now are Generation Z. Gen Z is made of those 13-22. Gen Z is a unique generation as they are the first generation to grow up in a completely digital world. 

Today, your young adult population within your church is likely made up of both millenials and Gen Z. 

How to Engage Young Adults in Your Church

It has been found that the age range young adults who grew up in church are most likely to drop out or disengage are the ages from 17-22. However, for this post and the actions that ensue we want your church to consider all young adulthood as a season of life after high school graduation and for most before marriage or until 30. 

We say this because it has been found that by age 30, 34% say they are regularly attending church. This means if churches can keep teenagers active in their congregations through that 17-20 window, they will most likely keep those young adults as they start families and establish the pattern of their entire lives.

So, how do you do it?

Be Intentional About The Transition

For young people involved in youth ministry this transition period doesn’t come as a surprise. Many youth groups take the time to celebrate and honor graduating seniors in different ways. Part of this time should be intentional, resourcing them for what is next. 

What ministries or events are available to them as young people in your church? Are there small groups or could they start one? Do they have mentors or other forms of personal discipleship moving into this next stage of life? 

However you do it be intentional. Make graduating seniors feel special, seen, and prepared for their next phase of ministry. 

Give Them a Voice

Whether you have established a young adult’s ministry or are just getting started, let the young adults of your church be involved. Ask for their opinion, give them a voice. They know better than anyone else what their peers are looking for in a church experience. 

If possible, actively seek their voice in other areas of ministry as well. Help them feel seen and valued in the church as whole, they want to be contributing members. 

Give Them a Role

One study found that Among young adults who stayed in the church, 54 percent say they had regular responsibilities. That was only the case for 15 percent of those who dropped out. 

As we said, young adults want to contribute to the church in greater ways. Help them identify their spiritual gifts and what unique gifts they have been given that can be used to serve others. 

Giving them roles and responsibilities also gives them a level of accountability. 

Spiritual Discipleship

In both kids and youth ministries students are being discipled and mentored on a personal level. Suddenly when we hit adulthood, without intentionally, discipleship stops. How can you provide spiritual discipleship opportunities to the young adults of your church? Could you start small groups, tailor adult ministry programs with them in mind, and create a mentorship program?

Let Them Lead

Among young adults who stayed in the church between the ages of 18 to 22, 42 percent held a leadership position in their activities at church. 

Whether it be in a Sunday school classroom, outreach project, volunteer teams, or serving coffee. Don’t let age discount leadership potential. 

Leadership opportunities help young adults learn so much about themselves and who they want to be as they continue to figure out what their future holds. It helps them feel valued and seen and gives them the satisfaction of giving of their time and talents the Lord has blessed them with. Don’t withhold that!

3 Tips to Avoid Church Drop Out From a Young Age

As you read there are many ways you can engage young adults and focus on successful young adult ministries in your church. If you’re reading this and it causes you to worry about the future of the kids in your church or even your own children, don’t worry. There are ways you can model the love of the local church and lifelong church engagement from a young age. 

1. Importance of Local Church

It is crucial for young adults to find value in the local church. This starts when they are young. Not only should this be taught throughout kids and youth ministry but more importantly it should be shown and experienced. 

Your entire congregation should be united including kids and youth ministry. Help the young generations see that they are needed and valued. Help them see how the older generation can teach and support them. 

2. Involve Parents

Many young adults state they chose to stay in the church because they were following the example of a parent or family member. Parents and kids and youth ministries should be in partnership in disciplining young people. For this reason, be sure your church is not only actively engaging with the next generations but their parents too. 

Most parents assume their teenagers don’t pay any attention to their words or actions, but this assumption is wrong. If parents make church a priority and value it as a family their children are more likely to as well when they enter adulthood. 

3. See Them

Young adults need to know that when they graduate they won’t be able to just slip through the cracks. Who will notice when they stop showing up to events or weekend services? If the answer is no one, your young adults know it. 

Students who get plugged into groups and serving are less likely to slip through the cracks or slip away unnoticed, that extra layer of accountability is good for everyone to stay engaged. 

Supporting Young Adults

As a church you don’t want any group of people or demographic to slip through the cracks. The statistics on church attendance amongst young adults can be concerning, but knowing there are ways you can intentionally engage with this age group can bring you hope. 

Young adulthood can be a difficult, scary, and confusing time for many. How is your church serving this demographic, disciplining them, and ultimately showing them the love of Christ in this season?

Creating Community Today

Torchable app is coming soon and has been designed to equip churches to connect with their communities and congregations. When it comes to reaching the next generation Churches can use Torchable to promote and manage young adult small groups, and events, and help young adults find community and service opportunities in churches in their area. 

Like what you are reading? Subscribe to our blog for these resources to be sent right to your inbox.