Ministering to emerging adults during a Global Pandemic

Not many of us had any idea what 2020 and the Covid virus would mean for our churches, our schools, our communities.  Due to major shifts in the lifestyles of emerging adults including:  high unemployment, closed campuses, and social distancing – the ways in which we minister to emerging adults must also shift.

Here are a few things that may appear simple, but will prove more essential than getting them to attend your Zoom hangouts.

  1.  Help them process.

I was on a mission trip with 20 college students in the mountains of Virginia working on construction projects.  Throughout the week, college group after group were forced home early due to their campuses and all activities being shut down.  Even separated in the mountains from the news of Covid, and lack of social media – the students were scared.  They had never experienced anything like this before – and neither had I.

They had a ton of questions (What about my classes?  My grades? My internship? My parents? My financial aid?  My graduation?) The practical questions came first – and nobody had answers at the time.  Even without answers, voicing their questions allowed them to be heard, and provided the empathy that they needed. Although they asked the same questions over and over, they needed this repetition to process the changes.

Processing these questions together on a service trip helped build community.  They no longer felt alone in facing these changes, but they knew that they had others around them to listen and support them. Processing their losses (through lament), and finding things to celebrate together is crucial for them to keep moving forward.

2.  Provide companionship.

This season of social isolation has been difficult  because social isolation erodes our emotional health.  Combining social isolation with other losses and disappointments is a double whammy to emerging adults.  High school seniors lost spring sports, graduations, and proms.  College seniors also missed many events – and have now graduated into a struggling economy with high levels of unemployment.  As those who work with emerging adults – we need to be ready to provide sympathy and understanding when they fret over their college loans coming due this fall.  

Companionship is crucial when facing uncertainty.  You can provide companionship by acknowledging their losses, and reminding them that they are not alone.  This doesn’t mean you need to function as their therapist, job recruiter, or educational consultant (although stepping into some of those roles is sometimes needed), but they need consistent check-ins.  Regular communication with emerging adults you are close to – can help them feel grounded and not alone. Their typical modes of communication (email, social media, text, phone) may have shifted over the last few months, so make sure that you know how best to reach them.

3.  Point to faith, not fear.

In these times of uncertainty, we all need to turn to faith and not allow our fears to direct our decisions.  In the midst of fear, emerging adults may make bad decisions and turn to addictions, old routines, or unhealthy patterns (like spending or eating).  In this chaos, we must constantly be providing a steady voice in their storm (even if we feel unsteady ourselves at times).  We provide a voice that calls them to faith in a God who is with them and knows the future.

What have you found helpful to ministering to emerging adults during social isolation?  Leave your comments below.

Asking Good Questions

Asking good questions is critical for building a relationship – this is especially important in mentoring relationships.  Yet many of us struggle to form questions that allow people to answer without feeling judged.  One of the questions that emerging adults dread is “How’s school?”  This question is especially heinous to emerging adults who are not attending college, or have dropped out.

Good questions are open-ended, and lead to reflection rather than to pat answers.  As a mentor, you don’t want to answer their questions and make decisions, but to guide them as they reflect on their lives, and make their own decisions.

  1. So how has that been working for you?
  2. Where do you think that this is going?
  3. What have you learned about yourself, about God, about the world?
  4. What can I do to support you?
  5. Does the Bible offer any direction for you?
  6. What do you think that you need to hear from God?
  7. What’s keeping you from _______________?
  8. What other resources do you have?
  9.  What do others think about this?  friends, parents, and other relationships?
  10.  What happened the last time that you did this?
  11.  What is the next right step?
  12. How will this matter in 5 years?  in 10 years?

I hope these encourage and guide you.   Please leave your favorite question in the comments below.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources.  He loves being a dad, and shepherding emerging adults.  If he can help your faith community, please contact him. 

Top questions to ask college students before they head to school

Fall is upon us, and student will soon be packing their bags and leaving for college.  If your child is leaving, Kara Powell from the Fuller Youth Institute released this article about preparing your child for college.  Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary.

When our oldest started high school, multiple older parents told me that high school would fly by. I didn’t believe them, but now that Nathan is diving into eleventh grade, I’ve jumped on the “high school goes so fast” bandwagon.

Here is the full article! 

Pass it along to someone you know is dropping off a student this fall.

If you work with emerging adults, please join Kara and other members of the Fuller Youth Institute as members of the EA Network – a networking site on Facebook.

Other resources:


Preparing for Adolescence/Directions to Adulthood Seminars

I am excited about my double-header workshops for parents.  Both workshops tie into my parental E-VAC Plan (or how to one day get them to evacuate!)  The E-VAC plan focuses on the three developmental tasks of adulthood:  Vocation, Autonomy, and Community.


These seminars are designed for parents of children, adolescents, and emerging adults, who want to understand more about human development, and how to prepare their children for the Journey Ahead.

Here are the workshop descriptions:

Preparing for Adolescence:

We will examine the facts and fables of human adolescence.  You will gain an understanding of the developmental characteristics of adolescents and discuss how to equip them for adulthood.  We will discuss practical methods of impacting your child’s spiritual development that will give them a faith that will stick beyond high school.  You will walk away feeling equipped and encouraged in your own journey as a parent.       

Directions to Adulthood – Preparing them for the Journey Ahead

Why does it seem that adolescents are taking longer to grow up?  We will examine the causes of delayed development, and solutions being proposed.  We will examine the biblical basis of adulthood, and how parents can help adolescents successfully move forward.  This seminar will help you better understand your children, and encourage you during this new phase of parenting.      

If you are interested in having Dr. Boyd come and speak to your community, please contact him at

How big is the Millennial Generation?

I came across this article while doing some research, and I wanted to share it with those who enjoy reading about Millennials (who are currently emerging adults)!

Marketers tend to focus a lot of energy on Millennials. Their lives are deconstructed on many different levels, and there’s research to be found on anything ranging from their top financial goals to the ways in which they use their phones. Those analyses are all helpful in their own right, but –  stepping back to the big picture for a moment – how many of these prized individuals are there in the US? The latest data out from the Census Bureau gives a sense of how large this coveted generation is.


Read the rest of the Article HERE.



Attentiveness and A Harvest Vision: Spiritual Attentiveness in Emerging Adulthood

I came across a series of articles on Sapientia, a series of articles that is collected by Trinity International Divinity School.  The articles are written by David Setran, who is the co-author of what I consider to be the best resource written on understanding the spirituality of emerging adults called Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood.

Here is David’s article:

Emerging adults often have their focus directed squarely upon the future. Parents and other concerned adults regularly ask them about the five and ten-year plans they are devising for adulthood. They are preparing for a future career and, at least potentially, a future spouse and children.

Read More Here.

group of girls

Photo courtesy of Aaron Robert Photography. Copyright 2014.