Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Starting a Young Adult Ministry
By Jason Bowman
Every church has young adults who desire more influential fellowship with other Christian young adults. Before a pastor simply implements a program to reach young adults, however, he must assess why he wants to develop this program. Young adults detect authenticity; if they sense you want them to attend to prove your new program a success, they will be gone. But if they see your genuine love, passion, and friendship, they will work to see your dream come to life.
By following the simple steps below you will be on your way to beginning a fruitful ministry for young adults.
Ask young adults what they look for and what it will take to reach others like them. If they assess your motives are only to grow your church and ministry, you will have difficulty connecting with them. If they see a heart that loves them, they will overlook miscalculations and will work with you to see your dream accomplished.
Asking questions and listening build ownership. Young adults have access to more information than any other generation. They have thoughts and opinions on almost every topic. By asking them what they are looking for in a church and in a ministry, you will unlock a wealth of knowledge, engage their interest, and build a friend. By listening to their passion and implementing their ideas, you will create a ministry together. If it is their ministry, they will advance it, advertise it, and own it.
Create a leadership team of young adults. Some pastors have given certain young adults the opportunity for creative input and critical assessment of their sermons. Having this feedback can help you relate your messages to the needs of young adults already attending your church.
Teach with questions. Get young adults to think by asking the right questions. When you ask questions, you create an approachable atmosphere. Often discussion does not work because the leader already has the answer to the question he asked. Prepare only questions. Have young adults first discuss your questions among themselves in groups to get them talking and then report their answers.
Appoint a Leader
Allow someone the privilege of serving as the leader of this ministry. This will communicate to young adults that they are important. This individual may even be a young adult.
Young adults long to be empowered. They may consider themselves leaders but are often without opportunity to lead. By having a chance to implement the ministry they have created they will find fulfillment and connection. Even if there are only a few young adults in your church, it is never too early to appoint a pastor to implement a young adult ministry. Maybe there are no young adults in your church because there is no young adult ministry.
Too many young adults continue to attend the youth group for years after high school. While this is a valid opportunity for some, it ignores the fact young adults face different social, developmental, and relational needs.
Challenge leaders to empower more leaders. The purpose of the leader is to prepare God’s people for works of service. The role of the minister is to get others ministering. And it is the hunger of this generation to make a difference.
If all young adults hear is talk, then the excitement will wane. However, if you take their ideas and implement them, they will begin to see your desire to meet their needs. Here are some practical ways to get a young adult ministry launched in your church.
- Lunch with a potential leader. Taking someone in your church to lunch to assess his or her heart for young adult ministry is a great way to build a relationship and provide an intimate opportunity for a young adult to express passion for this generation.
- Brainstorm. Food and vision for ministry work well together. Once a leader is in place, plan an after-service luncheon to get other young adults who might be interested in a young adult ministry.
- Plan social events. Give opportunity to connect with one another in an informal atmosphere.
- Spend time with leaders. Encourage the young adult pastor to spend time with leaders. This will provide an opportunity to hear more of their input and for them to catch more of your passion and vision.
Resource the Ministry
A successful young adult ministry can pay for itself. Young adults give when they are challenged with passion and purpose. Some young adult ministries place a giving station in the back of their gatherings instead of passing a plate. This frees the leader to teach on giving without collecting an offering. Many young adults early in marriage find themselves in the “Dual Income No Kids” category, giving them a larger expendable income. Even those in school often have some income with most of it set aside for recreation.
Young adult ministry will propel the church into the next half century. One children’s pastor said, “Young adult ministry is job security.” Why? Because some young adults have kids, and young adults with kids are willing to serve and connect in areas of the church where they have a vested interest.
Maintain the Mission
Any young adult ministry should seek to be real, relevant, relational, and revolutionary. While the terms real, relevant, relational, and revolutionary seem subjective, they are important in the mind of a young adult.
The term real is an issue of authenticity. Young adults have a built-in authentic gauge to perceive motivation. Make sure the motive for ministry to young adults is motivated out of love. If your young adult leader or you as pastor have a challenge understanding the trends of the current culture, be honest about your inability. Share your heart for people and they will listen to your heart for God.
Relevant is quite possibly the most subjective. What is relevant to one person may or may not be to another. Regardless, it is a journey that pastors must traverse if they are to reach this generation of young adults.
If you are starting a young adult ministry, create an atmosphere that resonates with the times. You can make your church more relevant simply by changing colors and decorations.
This generation is hungry for relational ministry. Many factors contribute to this including divorce rate, detached families, and even technology. Establish these relational opportunities.
- Social times. Some young adults find themselves without a built-in social group for the first time in their lives. The church can meet this need by creating social events: dinners, bonfires, themed parties, and small groups.
- Food. Young adults appreciate having lunch with a pastor. Take them to lunch or coffee to connect with them on a relational level.
- Family time. Maybe the testimony that you are not there but you are at home with your spouse and children speaks louder than if you were there.
- Create online profiles for you and your ministry. This technology connects you with people you already know.
A revolutionary ministry is one that attracts and impacts young adults. The message of Jesus is the greatest revolutionary message of all time. Does any revolution ever begin without having something worth dying for in the minds of young adults? We have a message of revolution; when it is proclaimed in a real, relevant, and relational way, the young adults of this generation will proclaim it with all their energy.
The young adults of our time desire to make an impact. Young adults in your area are waiting for a challenge from their church and young adult leaders to inspire and empower them. Pastors can make a difference by inspiring the young adults of their churches to radical revolutionary thinking and community involvement.
The potential for young adult ministry in your church has never been greater. The national Young Adult Ministries of the Assemblies of God encourages ministry to young adults and has developed resources to meet this growing need. You can find resources online at www.youngadults.ag.org.