As more people claim to be “spiritual” more than religious, what exactly does that mean?

While in Johnson City, Tennessee, I began a conversation with a shuttle driver named Jeff.  He asked me why I was in town.  I explained I was speaking at a church, and said that he “hoped it was full of the Spirit.” 

I began asking him about his studies.  Jeff shared about his major, and what he wanted to do when he was done with college.  He was more than eager to talk about his life experiences, and how they had shaped him.  He was extremely articulate, and well-read in various philosophies. 

At some point during the conversation, I asked Jeff if he was religious.  He began by stating that his father was Jewish, and that his mother was Catholic, but neither of his parents actively participated in their faith.  He was not a believer in either religion, but stated that he was indeed spiritual. 

I then asked Jeff what “spiritual” meant to him.  Rather than put words to it, he gave me an example.  He stated that the evening before, there had been a banquet at the hotel.  After the event, there were left-over sandwiches.  He took these extra sandwiches and took them to people who were in need.  He stated that after this experience, he felt so good. 

I asked then how that was spiritual.  Jeff thought about it, and simply said that it had to do with the emotion associated with the action that he had done.  His emotional experience (due to his moral behavior), was the foundation of his recent spirituality. 

Jeff did not mention a belief in any god, or in anything supernatural. 

It has been stated that Millennials are spiritual, but not religious. 

A survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. (Source)

Often little definition is given to this expression “spiritual.”  For someone who has grown up in the church, I often have understood the term to mean that they believed in some form of spiritual reality that usually contained a concept of God, but they were not interested in organized religion.  After meeting Jeff, my understanding of “spiritual, but not religious” has changed.

Many emerging adults who have not had a connection with a religious belief system do not even have a concept of the word spiritual.  The word spiritual is a word that is often limited to those with a religious background.

Here is what I learned from Jeff.

We should avoid more than our Christian clichés.  While Christian platitudes are painful to even to church-attenders, the use of words like spiritual immediately highlight the distance between us.  Evangelism tools such as The Four Spiritual Laws by Bill Bright, assume that the person you are sharing with has a general concept of religion.  As more emerging adults in the United States have been raised without a Christian worldview, the vocabulary that we use in dialogue with them might leave both sides confused.

Ask questions.  Emerging adults have no problem entering into dialogue with others about faith or religious beliefs.  From their perspective, diversity brings beauty to our world, and strength to our communities.  Dialogue can also help them learn and understand the viewpoints of others.

Spiritual, but not religious could refer to anything from a devout Christ-follower who avoids churches to someone like Jeff who simply feels good as he reflects on his own moral behavior.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, a nonprofit designed to equip parents and churches to minister to the needs of emerging adults.  He is also the founder of the EA Network, a group of individuals seeking to work together to understand and minister to emerging adults.  If Dr. Boyd can equip your community to reach emerging adults, contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

Financing College – Taking Time to Laugh

Financing college can be difficult and stressful.  If you are in the midst of putting together a plan to finance an education, take some time to laugh.  Here is a great clip from the Middle, a show that is a must-watch for parents of emerging adults.

Check out this clip from the Middle.

Here are some additional articles that talk about finances.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, and the Founder of the EA Network.  If he can help your community understand and minister to emerging adults, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

“Adulting” Seminars – for emerging adults in your community

“Adulting” Schools have been active for a couple of years now.  If they are news to you, here is an article that can introduce you to the topic.  These events and schools are more about folding a sheet, but also build confidence and community for emerging adults.

I believe that churches and camps could offer “Adulting” Schools or Seminars for emerging adults – not in a demeaning way, but in a way to clarify and confirm their adulthood.

At EA Resources, we teach there is a biblical framework for what it means to be an adult.  The developmental markers of adulthood are to:  Discover Vocation, Establish Autonomy, and Develop Community.

Besides these main seminars, your church could offer breakout sessions on finances, career connections, cooking, or house-cleaning.

Here is a possible schedule:

             8:30   Registration – Welcome
              9:00-10:00 Directions to Adulthood:  Discover Vocation
             10:15-11:00 Seminar Sessions
              11:15- 12:15 Directions to Adulthood:  Establish Autonomy
              12:30-1:30 Lunch
               1:30 – 2:15   Seminar Sessions
                2:30 – 3:30   Directions to Adulthood:  Develop Community
               3:45 – 4:30   Seminar Sessions

If you are interested in discussing, how your community could host an Adulting Seminar, please contact Dr. Boyd at gdavid@earesources.org.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, and the Founder of the EA Network.  If he can help your community understand and minister to emerging adults, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

“Adulting” Schools – for Emerging Adults

“Adulting” almost became the international word of the years.  Some schools have popped over the country in order to teach emerging adults how to be an adult.  I believe churches could also offer “adulting” seminars and conferences.  If your community is interested, you can contact me at gdavid@earesources.org.

It’s not that hard to figure out how to fold a fitted sheet.
Google it and you’ll get more than 2 million results. There are more than 35,000 results on YouTube, with the top video clocking more than 15 million views.
But it is one of those basic life skills that, along with cooking dinner, figuring out health insurance or changing a flat tire, falls within the world of “adulting” — a self-deprecating term to describe the vast universe of things millennials should know how to do but probably don’t. The Adulting School says it’s not their fault, and wants to help them figure it out.

Here is the rest of the article. 

Bad News for low-income College Students

Federal financial support for low-income undergraduate students — in the form of Pell Grants will be reduced by 3.9 billion dollars if President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for 2018 is approved by Congress.

Here is the full article.

Pell Grants is money for college that does not need repaid, and goes to families whose income is less than 40k.  The maximum amount of the gift is $5,920, and many of the recipients have a household income less than 20k.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip parents and churches to minister to the needs of emerging adults.

 

Does a church’s views on sexuality alienate emerging adults?

Some research was released this week from the Pew Research Group regarding whether or not Americans believe that churches alienate young adults because of their beliefs on sexuality.

Here is the Link.  (You will have to scroll down to Section IV.)

When asked whether or not faith groups are driving away younger Americans because of intolerant views of gay and lesbian people, 50% of Americans said no.  When asked this same question in 2013, 58% of Americans said no.

The drop in this statistic could reveal the number of religious communities that are now more inclusive of the LGBT community.  The drop could also reflect how churches have become more nuanced, and aware of how to discuss these issues in the public square without causing offense.

Source: http://www.prri.org/research/lgbt-transgender-bathroom-discrimination-religious-liberty/

When the same question was asked to emerging adults (18-29 year olds), 60% of Millennials stated that churches are driving away younger Americans due to intolerance.  This number reflects a drop of 13% when compared to when this same question was asked in 2013.

 

Points for Consideration:

  • Emerging adults themselves are the best group to discuss this question, and I feel that their age group most accurately reflects the views of their generation.
  • Emerging adults who grow up within a community, and continues to share those same beliefs are less likely to feel these beliefs repel people their age (because those beliefs did not repel them).
  • These statistics do not show that changing your beliefs will cause more emerging adults to come racing to your church.  But they do reflect that these views, may become obstacles to new emerging adults joining your community.
  • Beliefs do matter.  The stance that your community takes (or refuses to take) on various issues does affect who will or will not walk through the doors of your building.
  • As emerging adults have become less tied to institutions, emerging adults may attend a church regardless of whether or not they agree with the church on a particular issue.  Emerging adults are not afraid to establish their own beliefs separate from the church. 

Although 60% is still extremely high, in regards to relating to and ministering to emerging adults, the positive news is that no group shifted in their perspective more positively than emerging adults.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources.  He is also the Founder of the EA Network, a group of individuals driven to minister to the needs of emerging adults.  If he can help your church minister to the needs of emerging adults, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

 

 

 

Processing Pain in Emerging Adulthood

Copyright 2016 EA Resources. Please contact for permission to use.

Throughout my life and ministry, I have observed people in various life stages (childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood, adulthood) experience deep pain.  It is especially wrenching to see little children go through pain.  While some say that children are resilient to pain, could the limited reaction of children (their resilience) to pain be due to their ability to fully process it?  

Pain and suffering affect any individual’s development, regardless of their age; however, feelings aren’t always processed immediately when the tragedy occurs.  Painful events and trauma often circle back into our lives, especially while transitioning to new stages of development.  

As children grow and mature, we must understand that traumatic incidents will be processed at differing stages.  Let’s imagine that a young boy named Billy was a victim of physical abuse which happened when he was five years old.  A child might process this event at different ages based upon his cognitive, emotional, social, and spiritual development; For example: (Please note: listed ages are relative.)  

At 4 – Dad hit me.  It hurt.  

At 8 – Dad hit me.  It hurt.  Dad was angry.  I am scared.  (The child has developed the ability to identify emotions within themselves and others.) 

At 12 – Dad hit me.  It hurt.  Dad was angry.  Dad doesn’t love me.  I am scared of Dad.  I am angry.  (The child developed the ability to recognize cause and effect, and abstract concepts.)

At 15 – Dad hit me.  It hurt.  Dad was angry.  Dad doesn’t love me.  I am scared of Dad.  I am angry.  I feel confused about my emotions and reactions towards my dad and mom.  My dad had other options.  My mother had other options.  God had other options.  I am angry at dad, at mom, and God.  (The adolescent developed the ability to connect experiences with spiritual beliefs, to use complex rationality, and to contemplate social relationships).

At 21 – Dad hit me.  How am I affected by my past?  How has my experienced shaped what I believe about myself and the world?  How will my past affect my current and future relationships with him and others?  (The emerging adults developed the ability to reflect on their past while developing their autonomy, and  establishing a social community.) 

During the transition to adulthood, pain can resurface.  Adolescents once trapped by family systems who either forced the child to avoid pain, or were the source of pain – are now freely able to process their childhood experiences.   

As the individual transitions towards adulthood, emerging adults seeking to establish their autonomy will begin the process of separating who they were in the past (or what had happened to them) into who they want to be as they make their own decisions.  As they process their past pain, emerging adults reflect how their experiences has shaped them, and how it will affect who they become.   

As emerging adults develop community, they make decisions as to how their past will affect their current and future relationships.  The ability to choose their social network allows them to make decisions concerning with whom they will continue relationships (even among family members).

As emerging adults discover vocation, pain can lead their vocational decisions as they seek healing from past trauma, or seek to heal others from the pain that they once experienced.  

Pain plays often a vital role in each fundamental task of adulthood shaping each individual according to God’s plan.  As those who minister to emerging adults, we must learn to ask good questions that will lead emerging adults to reflect on their past.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, and the Founder of the EA Network.  If Dr. Boyd can help you and your community minister to the needs of emerging adults, you can contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.      

 

 

 

Fostering virtual faith: Building an online community

As the internet has become more apart of our lives, discussions have been around for years about the possibility of a virtual church.  Here is an article that speaks about a truly virtual church, and how it desires to reach out to Millennials.

The Rev. Sion Gough Hughes, pastor of a Protestant church in Melbourne, Australia, was surfing the web a couple years ago when he happened on a Facebook page that challenged his understanding of his calling. 

Continue reading

Running from Adulthood? Powerful Music Video by Ruth B

J. M. Barrie first used Peter Pan, the character who never wanted to grow up first appeared in The Little White Bird (1902) written by J.M. Barrie.  The character was based on J.M. Barrie’s older brother who died in a ice-skating accident.  The family considered him to be the boy who always remain the same age. 

As the series progressed, a division developed with Peter Pan running from Captain Hook and the pirates in Neverland.  The pirates of Neverland are the only adults, and represent growing older.  The Lost Boys are his tribe of friends who run from the pirates.

In this video from Ruth B., she describes the how she had one true friend as a child – Peter Pan.

Here is the link – please listen closely to the words. 

As a society, we must ask ourselves and emerging adults the following questions.

  • As adults, do we welcome them into adult communities?
  • How do older adults show care for emerging adults?
  • How do we portray adulthood?
  • Is adulthood something that emerging adults want to achieve?  Do they know how to achieve it?
  • How do adults describe the challenges and behavior of emerging adulthood?
  • How do adults show empathy and support for emerging adults?

These are great questions for any church or community that is seeking to become intergenerational.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, and the Founder of the EA Network.  If he can help your community understand and minister to emerging adults, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.