Young Adult Ministry

My friend, Andrew Conard, asked this question on his blog: How do you get 20 somethings to church?

I think Andrew had good insights on what we as a church can do.
But recently, I’ve been noticing something else within young adults of the communities that I served in, DC and Hawaii.

I was listening to a sermon by Adam Hamilton on the 3 child Kings and he was speaking about Joash in the first part of the sermon. Joash followed the ways of the Lord until Jehoiada died. Joash believed in Jehoiada more than he believed in God.

When I heard that in the sermon, I realized that one of the many problems in the transition between youth and college is that the faith of the youth are not strong or in God. Like I stated, I believe that this is a small part in a big problem, but I think it’s well worth it to focus upon.
Sometimes I feel like the kids like youth group. They like the relationships, they like the pastors, they like the programs and the other volunteers and so forth. Once they leave for college, they realized that the new church isn’t anything like their youth group. Had their faith been in God and not the youth ministry, maybe this transition wouldn’t be so difficult for them.
We had countless college kids who kept attending youth ministry, because they didn’t want to “move up” to the college/young adult ministry. (Though during those days in DC we didn’t have a very strong college/young adult ministry). But I think it’s a common problem (at least in the Korean church) where college students would rather attend youth programs than young adult programs.

I’ve been looking at how I have been ministering to the youth. I think I baby them too much. I think I have a hard time moving away from the Spiritual milk, so to speak. At first, I thought this would be helpful to our youth, but I think too much of this babying is going to hurt more than help. They can’t be babied all the time at church and in their faith. And I think this is why many youths don’t like to go to church in the first place, because the world they know do not match up with the God many of us try to present.  Maybe this is why a lot of our college students wanted to continue attending our youth programs. It was easy for them to stay in that comfort zone of their faith. Maybe they’d wanted to be babied rather than explore their faith. And maybe when things get really bad, all they remember is “God is good” and “and God makes us happy” sort of stuff, and they feel that God is a fairy tale and can’t provide hope, or anything else, in their world.

How many other pastors felt like they were babying their church members?

3 thoughts on “Young Adult Ministry

  1. Joseph – I think that you make a great point here. I think that it is valid in many contexts and I think is true in my current context at times. I think that the best model would be to continue to teach, equip and model an active life of spiritual disciplines. But, how does this happen in real life? I’m still thinking on that.

    Hope that you had a great Thanksgiving!

  2. One way I think we’ve messed up, is by giving students a heavy dose of what *not* to do in college, but not providing a game plan for when they mess up. Don’t party, don’t have premarital sex, don’t get sucked into secular philosophy — but what happens when they do?

    I struggled with guilt for a long time in college after I compromised my faith during freshman year. Then I remembered that I’m just human, and I need a Savior every day of my life. But to be honest for a while I felt like a spiritual failure and that I let down everyone who believed in me. Some people never get past this point because at their weakest, doubt enters in.

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