When you’re starting a ministry for the ‘missing generation’, which three essentials are most important?
One of the reasons I settled at my church was its potential. A congregation of around 300, all passionate about community and scripture. Our next venture involves setting up an evening service aimed at those in their building stage – aged18-35. But where do you start? We don’t want to run before we can walk, so what characteristics and approaches need to be established before we can even think about style of worship, social events, preachers, and atmosphere?
We came up with three essentials for starting any young adults ministry (spoiler: they’re not coffee, checked shirts and Toms). I’d love to know your thoughts and additions to these three…
1. It has to be organic
Thriving community starts with authentic, organic friendships. Simply throwing a load of young adults into a church building isn’t enough. Encouraging community organically involves joining people in their natural patterns of life – over meals, coffee, pints, laughter. We have to try and avoid the rigid structure and just let something grow naturally. If we do, we’ll have a thriving culture of fellowship, accountability and shared vision.
As with any sub ministry, it also has to be an organic growth of the church as a whole. A group cut off from the rest of wider church community won’t benefit from its wisdom and diversity. It should always be an extension of the existing culture, vision and character of the congregation.
2. It has to be authentic
We need to rediscover the church as a place where people can be honest and open about their personal and spiritual lives. We often tell little white lies about our walk with God, without even meaning to. Things like how often we study scripture, how many times a day we pray, how much money we give to charity, how connected we feel to God, how often we forgive people etc. We don’t mean to be deceitful, we’re just worried about looking like the worst Christian in the room.
We all struggle, but both church leaders and congregations need to be more upfront with what they’re battling against. More importantly, a culture of authenticity destroys the assumption that you have to be perfect before stepping foot in church – something that keeps a lot of non-Christians away and leads to young adults turning their back on church.
3. It has to be evangelistic
We don’t want a new ministry that attracts existing Christians from other churches. We want new Christians. That’s something that scares me, because it’s not the easy option, but it has to be a cornerstone to build upon. 90% of new people who walk through the doors should be people who haven’t recently set foot in a church – any less than that and we’re not doing things right.
Let’s focus on those who need the gospel most and who has the potential to thrive in a church environment. Everything we need to do has to be focused on turning young people into fully devoted followers of Christ.
I’m not saying we’ve got it spot on; we know there are plenty more important areas to focus on. What do you think? Are there any other fundamentals that shouldn’t be overlooked? Leave a comment to let me know.