I settled into my seat as the flight attendant was giving those all too familiar instructions. “One carry on, briefcase or purse under the seat in front of you. Hurry along; we have a full flight.” My flight from Detroit would take about four hours. Add on to that the additional 45 minutes of waiting on the tarmac for de-icing and I would have plenty of time to review the materials for the two upcoming church consultations I was to do over the next six days.
As I reviewed the materials and information our support team gathered from each church, something immediately struck me. Both churches were looking for help on how to reach young adults. Two different churches looking for help in reaching this very elusive and very coveted generation of young people.
For the last several years there has not been a church I have worked with that has not asked me this question: “How do we reach young people?” As consultants and coaches working with churches, we have seen how many churches have tried to take a program approach to reaching this age demographic. They create events, groups, and activities in hopes of attracting young people to their church. The intentions are good, but the truth is this attractional attempt to increase the number of young people in church on Sunday morning is not the best option. There are other options for a church to consider.
First, consider if you are really in an area or context either geographically or demographically able to reach this age group. Some churches may be better resourced, equipped, and called to reach other people groups. Are you really called to reach this group or does God have other plans? Seek God’s will and His desire for who you are to be focusing your ministry efforts toward.
Second, if you are feeling called to reach young people do your own research and learn as much as you can about this group. They are very, very different than people of that same age from generations ago. Set aside the natural tendency to attract them through traditional methods or programs. Consider how you can grow and connect through relationships with young adults reaching other young adults.
A graduate from a discipleship and leadership process like SEND North America is a good place to start. Young adults can be equipped and sent to reach other young adults. That’s really the most effective and meaningful way for a young adult ministry to grow and multiply. In less than a year, with no added cost to your church for the training, your church could deploy a trained missionary to reach young people. They could serve on your staff teams or serve as a lay leader.
The fact is to reach young adults you need young adults trained in mission and relational discipleship. Intensive training processes like SEND can and will do this for your church. Why SEND? If you are asking the question, how do we reach more young people, the answer is young people reach young people.
By Tracee J. Swank, Leader, Church Doctor Ministries
SEND North America Young Adults are 10 months away from becoming trained missionaries and helping you reach young adults in your church. Contact us to learn more.
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