Why You Need the Church (And Not Just a Campus Ministry)

Russell Moore is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (Website Bio).  He has recently made news as one of the few Southern Baptists to question support for the direction of the Republican party.  While I would not agree with this man on several topics, I found this article on his website, and wanted to share it with my readers.

Please share with your graduating seniors.

May is graduation season. All across the country, thousands of high school seniors are getting ready to leave high school and hometown behind as they go off to college. This includes many Christian students, for whom a move to a new city means being away not just from the comforts of home, but from their home church. Away from the gathering of Christians they’ve known for years, many students will look to their school campus ministry to fill the void.

Here is the full article.

At the end of the article, he gives practical ways to stay connected to a church including:

  • Resist the temptation to keep your membership in your home church.
  • Join a church in your college town, as soon as you find one with a commitment to Christ and the Scripture.
  • Find a church where some people will know your name, and will know if you are not present.
  • Make a friend who will ask you where you were if you missed a weekend.
  • Spend some time with people in your congregation who are not in the same place in life as you–a lonely senior adult, a harried thirty-something Mom, a sarcastic fourteen year-old kid.
  • Pester the church leaders of the church for some way for you to exercise your gifts in the congregation–and let the leaders recognize and encourage your gifts.

What are some additional ideas for connecting with a new church community?

Hatred for that Cat in the Cradle.

I listen to various types of music – disco, Motown, classic rock, and current tunes.  There are very few classic songs that I do not love.

However, there is one song that I have hated my entire life.  A song that makes my skin crawl.  A song that will always make me change the radio station.  “Cat’s in the Cradle” is a 1974 folk rock song by Harry Chapin from the album Verities & Balderdash. 

The song is too depressing, and I still hate it.  Apparently my children feel the same way, because they now throw a fit anytime they hear it.

The song was highlighted in an episode of the Middle.

Here is the original scene.  I am a fan of the Middle – Here is a post that I dedicated to the show.   The Middle will give parents an outside perspective of the issues facing emerging adults – with ALOT of laughter.

The second video definitely lightens the mood.  Here is the video.

While in the midst of raising your children, remember that like other life stages – emerging adulthood has its trials and blessings.

Remember to minimize the trials, and focus on the blessings. 

 

 

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity

When it comes to responding to the Millennial Exodus, churches rarely know how to respond.  Many churches seek answers from bloggers who seem obsessed with talking about tight pants and fog machines.

Atheist from Flickr via Wylio

© 2013 JouWatch, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

It is crucial that the church stop listening to themselves, and start listening to millennials who have left.  EA Resources actually is willing to pay for millennials who will take the time to express why they have left the church.  If you know someone who is willing to share, please tag them in article, and they can contact me at gdavid@earesources.org.

Here is an article that encourages us to listen to Atheists about why they left in order to strengthen the church.  Happy reading –

“Church became all about ceremony, handholding, and kumbaya,” Phil said with a look of disgust. “I missed my old youth pastor. He actually knew the Bible.” 

I have known a lot of atheists. The late Christopher Hitchens was a friend with whom I debated, road tripped, and even had a lengthy private Bible study.

Here is the full article – LINK.

What do you think about these points?

  • They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions.
  • They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously.
  • Ages 14-17 were decisive.
  • The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one.
  • The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism.

As millennials leave the church, we must understand that their exit is rarely something that comes without thought or cost.  Their decision to embrace unbelief is a journey that has stretched their social, emotional and mental stamina.

If Dr. Boyd can assist your community in how to minister to emerging adults, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

I came across a neat resource put out by the Faith Communities Today national surveys of American congregations.  The resource is produced by Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, Director of the Center for Analytics, Research and Data in the United Church of Christ.

Click here to see the full resource.

Here were two interesting quotes from the paper.

  • In general, congregations that increased young adult participation over the last three years gained an average of nearly 20 young adults per congregation (with an increase of five young adults being the most frequent number reported).
  • Other characteristics of critical mass young adult congregations include higher likelihoods that the majority of regularly participating adults are theologically conservative the congregation has higher percentages of children and youth, and the congregation prioritizes engaging young adults.

If you want to attract emerging adults.  You must prioritize emerging adults.  Rather than giving lip-service to reaching young adults, the priorities of your church are revealed through your website and other forms of communications, budget, and staffing.

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

 

Young People Are Leading the Way. Will The Church Follow?

I read this article over the weekend, and wanted to share it with the EA Network.  The title of the article is fascinates me.  Instead of assuming that we ask emerging adults to lead the church, we should assume that they are already leading the church.  We should then ask the question, “Where are they leading us?”

The answer is simply that many of them are leaving established religious organizations.  There is plenty of research to support this fact – which I often refer to the Millennial Exodus.  If you want to read about the Millennial Exodus, and read stories of why they are leaving, search the website under Millennial Exodus.

Here is the article.

Most of the studies I have seen on young adults and faith indicate that young people are leaving the church in record numbers. According to the source, anywhere from 60-70% of young people drop out of church in their college years. Almost weekly another article surfaces explaining the latest reasons young people are leaving churches. Surely there is a lot to lament here, but I’m not sure these doomsday reports tell the full story.

Click here for the rest of the story.

 

 

A New Swag Bag for Seniors: Rethinking the Church Graduation Rite of Passage

Some of my work was just released by Youth Specialties.  Please check it out.

Spring is here, and many churches are set to once again launch a group of seniors. Parties will be hosted.  Pictures will be shown. Bibles will be distributed. Graduation banquets will be held. As someone who has led many of these events, here is my revised list of what I believe seniors should be given as they leave.

Here is the rest of the article.

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, you can contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

 

Hosting a Meaningful Graduation Party: 8 Short and Sweet Pieces of Advice

© 2007 Andrew Schwegler, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

1.  Talk about Expectations with your Child.

Discuss what you both feel is important for the party.  I know some graduates chose a family vacation rather than a graduation party.  If you choose to have a party, speak frankly about what you most want from an event.  While reflecting on her experiences, one mother writes, “For me, great food and a warm welcome for each guest is of the utmost important.”  Knowing what you, your spouse, and your child desire is crucial to a successful party.

2.  Establish graduation as a rite of passage in their lives and yours.

Western society has lost the significance of rites of passage in an individual’s life.  Graduating from high school is a time to celebrate, but it should be so more.  “Experiencing a rite of passage allows young people to let go of childlike behavior and to begin taking on adult responsibilities and their accompanying consequences.”  (Rite of Passage Parenting)  Find a time during this season of life when you can incorporate a “rite of passage” with your child.

3.  Simplify everything.

Parties tend  to snowball over time; therefore, start simple, and stick to the plan.  This time may not be the best opportunity to plan renovations to your home.  If you attend many open houses, you will be tempted to add to the menu, the decorations, or invitation list.  I encourage you to fight conformity, and simply design your party uniquely around your family.  One parent writes, “Keep it simple – don’t buy into the “over the top” parties.  Do only those things that will honor your student and don’t try to compete to meet the standards set by other graduation parties.”

4.  Be selective in your invites.

In today’s world of social media invitations, people sometimes feel as if they have to invite everyone they know rather than who they actually want to invite.  Many parents and students feel overwhelmed by the crowd of people that parade through in a few short hours.  If numbers are not important, restrict your party to just close family and friends.  This allows more time to actually connect than simply up-dating them on what you are doing fall.

5.  Write down and record memories.

© 2004 Mat_the_W, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

As with any party, you and your child will be overwhelmed with people arriving, giving gifts, talking, and then leaving.  It is important to have a way to record memories from the day whether it is someone taking videos, pictures, or a guest book.

6.  Take time to reflect.

Many parents and students feel social pressure to not only host a party, but to attend an endless season of party jumping.  In the midst of this hectic time, set aside quite time as a family to reflect on the changes that are occurring in your family.

7.  Start planning early.

© 2004 Mat_the_W, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

If you need to rent equipment (tables and chairs), then you will need to call early.  Borrowing from friends and neighbors will take some time.  As with any period of change, you should expect your emotions and stress level to be elevated in you and your child.  The sooner you start to plan, the easier it will be to make decisions and stay under budget.

8.  Get help before, after, and during the Party.

One parents expresses how, “It is NOT possible to do it all on your own.”   “Have a close friend or family member take care of replenishing food and taking care of all kitchen responsibilities.  This frees the parents up to be able to visit.”  The work required for a party takes many hands, so make sure that you ask your community to help.

david in hat - blackDr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip parents and churches for the Emerging Adult years.

Resources:

Deeply to the Bone, Donald Grimes

Rite of Passage Parenting, Walker Moore

Church Plants and Emerging Adults

I came across an article about how church plants are reaching emerging adults.

Sunday services at Five14 Church begin loud.

Worshippers are greeted into with heavy bass and synth beats. The morning starts off with a game, delivered by a standup comedian. At the nondenominational New Albany church, this is gospel.

Read the full article.

Here are a few highlights:

  • The number of adults in the U.S. who say they believe in God or regularly attend a religious service has been on the decline for years nationwide, but is on the rise in Ohio. 
  • They get a lot of explorers – people just looking for a deeper meaning to life, but who are not sure where to find it.
  • “I think if they decided to bring a really aggressive anti-LGBT, anti-self-expression, that might be an issue,” Brunsman says. (Someone who lives in the local community’s view of the new church.)
  • “[The Church] needs to be incarnate on the Internet.”

Other characteristics of this church includes – a relaxed, authentic atmosphere, loud and up-beat music, and an understanding that attenders may not be knowledgeable of Christianity. While these characteristics are not essential for attracting emerging adults, these communities have found a winning recipe for reversing the Millennial Exodus.

What do you think attracts emerging adults to a spiritual community?

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

Are Emerging Adults “Spiritual, but not Religious”?

I recently wrote about a conversation with a millennial, and his explanation of what this expression means.

If you are new to this expression, and would like to do a little reading, here is a resource from Patricia Snell Herzog who is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  She is a contributing author of Souls in Transition and Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood.

Here are some highlights of the article.

  •  RAAS (religious and also spiritual), RBNS (religious but not spiritual), SBNR (spiritual but not religious), and NRNS (not religious, not spiritual). The answer is that there are emerging adults in each of these four types, such that some emerging adults are SBNR and others are not.
  • Most spiritual-but-not-religious (SBnr) emerging adults believe in a higher power. Many attended religious services at one point in time, but have either lost interest in them or become antithetical to the religious approaches to which they were exposed.

Understanding the different types of “Spiritual, but not Religious” is crucial because in order to approach an emerging adult with the gospel, you need to understand how think, and what exactly they believe.  If you are looking for a good read, check out Generation Ex-Christian:  Why Young Christians are Leaving the Faith and How to Bring them Back  by Drew Dyck.

If you are looking to teach/share the concept of “Spiritual, but not religious” with a group, here is a lesson plan by the Institute for Faith and Learning.

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

 

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.