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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The message of the organized church doesn’t seem to be sitting to well with many Emerging Adults. Many emerging adults are exiting the church at record numbers – creating what I call the Millennial Exodus.
I believe that if we want to see a reversal of this trend, then we will need to change our message. No, I am not talking about watering down the gospel or avoiding the today’s tough topics. The church needs to send a different message to Emerging Adults.
The main messages that emerging adults hear from the church is that their generation.
- Are selfish and narcissistic.
- Are too techy (which is usually described as weird and unhealthy).
- Are leaving the church.
- Are endangering the future of the church.
- Are too young to really lead.
These words may not have been spoken from the platform, or printed in the bulletin; however, the message is loud and clear to them. They know it well because they have heard these messages while sitting in your faith classes and in your pews on Sunday mornings.
What is a better message to send to emerging adults? Here is a great example from the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
There is a need for denominations and churches to send a different message to emerging adults. This message should be well-crafted, simple, and repetitive.
Leave a comment of what you feel needs to be said to today’s emerging adults.
Dr. G. David Boyd is the managing director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip parents and churches to engage emerging adults. He is also the founder of the EA Network, a community of people who serve and love emerging adults.