At the end of the first blog on “Ministry to and with Millenials and GenZ” I said that I would give some ideas of what the church can do to engage with these emerging adults. You might have been eagerly awaiting a list of programs and strategies for Immanuel to do: and while we will eventually get to some of that, the most important thing I learned about what the church can do for the young adults and teenagers in their communities is for each one of us to seek them out, engage with them, find out what matters to them, and know them.
- LISTEN to teens, simply listen to them, and empathize.
- Walk alongside them in their fear/worry/anxiety
- Be willing to talk about the difficult issues: sexuality/gender; money; justice for all; indigenous peoples, etc.
- Be one of the 5 non-parental adults that teens need in their life to grow in their faith
- Invest in them, grow with them, make a commitment to them.
There will be several opportunities for you to discuss these things further and to begin to un-pack this information as it applies to Immanuel. The staff has started reading Growing Young and will be processing each chapter, and then bringing a plan for strategy to the congregation. This book is based on 4 years of extensive research with over 500 young adults, and over 300 churches, searching for ways to keep and connect youth/emerging adults with the church. It’s a positive, hopeful book, sharing how it is possible for any church to “grow young” despite the trend of teens/young adults leaving the church. And when a church grows young, it makes a positive impact on all aspects of church life – “In a kingdom win/win, stronger ministry to young people bulks up the ministry muscles of the entire congregation, and vice versa.” (p. 42)
We will also offer an “Adult Education” class on Sundays, starting Sunday, Sept. 22 after worship (lunch provided) based in part on the “Growing Young” book. This is for any and all of you who want to learn more about becoming a church that is “growing young:” parents of teens and young children, those of us who are “almost” finished parenting, those of you who are grandparents, and those of you who love youth and want to be a part of a church that loves youth! So… anybody and everybody!!
While the book outlines six essential strategies that a church needs to embrace in order to “grow young” we were all encouraged by these 10 qualities that your church does NOT need in order to grow young. While some of these things are still important, they were not THE thing that the research found made a church attractive to youth. The list my surprise you.
- A precise size
- A trendy location or region
- An exact age
- A popular denomination…or lack of denomination
- An off-the-charts cool quotient
- A big, modern building
- A big budget
- A “contemporary” worship service
- A watered-down teaching style
- A hyper-entertaining ministry program
I would like to invite you to pray, join, and engage in the learning. Stay tuned for continued details and communication regarding how we hope to engage Immanuel in being a church that is “growing young.”
In Christ, Ruth Ann