The recent Charlize Theron movie Young Adult paints a grim picture of the attitudes and values of those young people caught somewhere between high school and adulthood. While I know it’s Hollywood and only one individual, it raises the question of what is a young adult, and how do we as the church effectively minister to them?
Generationally speaking we’re talking mostly about Generation Y, iGen, Millennials, Mosaics – those born between 1980 and 1994. Mark McCrindle of McCrindle research labels them the most formally educated generation, technologically savvy, looking for stimulation in the workplace, in a hurry for a promotion, and reluctant to obey the boss. He also explains that Generation Y will change jobs every two years and have a remarkable 29 jobs across their careers. Personally, as a 31 year old, I not only see many of these characteristics evident in my own life, but also in those I have served and served alongside in this age group.
These observations, while focused on society at large, are very insightful for those of us seeking to understand, serve and disciple young adults in the church today.
How is your church responding to this generation? How is your church challenging these social norms? How is your church developing an alternative community where questions can be asked and mission take place? How is your church involving this generation in ministry and leadership?
The church is not only presented with specific challenges in discipling men and women in Generation Y, but we find ourselves facing unprecedented religious diversity from those in that age group.
The Brisbane Times, based on the 2011 Census results, reported, based on the 2011 Census results, ‘For the first time, most Australians aged 25 to 34 are no longer Christians. Just 49 per cent identified with any Christian denomination… 10 per cent declared themselves for Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam or Judaism, 3 per cent professed other beliefs, 29 per cent said they had no religion and 9 per cent gave no answer’. While admittedly this does not represent all of Generation Y, it does outline further challenges in young adult ministry. In an age where ‘tolerance’ is held up as the ultimate value, the Christian church must conduct itself with humility, wisdom, and grace, while not hiding its convictions about the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
What is the way forward? For some churches, it’s the continuation of the development of healthy young adult communities; for others it’s the need to urgently explore ministry opportunities for this age group. Whatever the current situation in your church, can I urge you to pray that God would raise up leaders for this generation and that those who have faith in Jesus would live the transformed lives that God has given them?