This weekend I will be leading a seminar for elders, deacons, and ministers on some of the reasons churches tend to lack the involvement of young adults, and what might be done to reach out to this missing demographic. It's funny to me to be asked to lead such a seminar. I have many ideas about the topic, it's true. I'm passionate about the topic. I live the topic. However, the fact remains that I have not as of yet managed to be what I would deem successful at involving young adults in the life of my church.
So, I'll be facilitating from a place of wondering as much as knowing. I'll be standing even more obviously than usual in my strange feet-in-two-worlds position as someone who is very much a part of the culture of my age bracket, and yet also firmly planted in the institutional church. I worry that people will expect me to have brilliant formulas for filling their pews with 18-35 year olds. I worry that they will look to me to speak as the voice of my generation - whatever generation that might be - when the truth is that there is no single voice, and I am so shaped by church, theology, and ministry that if there was one, I certainly would not be it.
I've been working on this seminar for a month, but as its approach becomes more imminent, I second-guess my thoughts and plans more by the day.
I'm fairly certain that I was asked to lead this session in part because of my involvement in online communities, and I believe strongly in the power of such community. So, I have a couple of questions for my ever-helpful readers (recognizing that even the terminology "young adults" falls short in many ways):
1) What are the distinctive characteristics and desires of young adults, as you see them? What are the differences between the "younger" and "older" generations, specifically in the ways they think about and experience church?
2) What ideas do you have for reaching out to and/or drawing in young adults? What have you tried that has worked...or not worked?
As always, I appreciate your input. Thanks!