First Third Conversations

Resource for Ministry with Young Adults, Installment #3

BibleA blog post by Terri Elton

Understanding young adults is one thing, but engaging them in ministry is another. This installment of resources will focus on two issues: Why are Christians who were connected with the church leaving? What about the faith and spiritual lives of young men?

Why are young adult Christians leaving?

There are several reasons, yet many young adults are open to reengaging. Knowing why young adults don’t feel like they are accepted in congregations is critical, but so is knowing what questions younger adults have and what a conversation might look like. David Kinnamon’s research can help us. To learn more, here are some links:

See this video clip introducing the idea:

Go to their website for more resources:

Or read the book You Lost Me.

You Lost Me

Kinnaman, David. You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church… and Rethinking Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011.

Written about young adults who grew up in the church but have become disconnected, this book attempts to bring issues to the surface that cause so many to leave the church and never return. Based on research done by Barna Group, specifically the age range of 18-29 year olds, this book combines individual stories, research findings, and useful ideas for congregations who want to connect with this age group.

What about Young Men?

What do we know about young men’s spirituality? That is the questions David Anderson, Paul Hill, and Rollie Martinson explored in their research. They discovered that the traditional ministry opportunities (weekly or monthly ministries meeting at church) do not connect well with young men, and they offer ideas for creating other connection points based more on activities, discovering and drawing on young men’s gifts/passions, and beginning to rethink the culture of a congregational community to be more accessible to young people.

For more, read Coming of Age or check out the practical ministry resources on the Vibrant Faith website: of age

Anderson, David, Paul Hill and Roland Martinson. Coming of Age: Exploring the Identity and Spirituality of Younger Men. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006.

Beginning with a simple question,“Where have all the young men gone,” this book explores 18-40 year old males, a segment of the population missing in many of our congregations, wondering about the impact faith plays in their individual lives. Based on research they conducted, Anderson, Hill, and Martinson provide insights for congregations about how to reengage men around faith and their everyday life.

Web Resources for Ministry with Young Adults

What about Preaching to Young adults?

What do the changes in the young adult experience have to do with worship? In this video, Andy Root invites pastors to think about unconventional ways of telling the profound message of the gospel:

Threads Media Website

This website is geared towards young adult and college student ministry. It is made up of three main sections: Lead, Life, and Blogs. The first, Lead, is based on different Bible studies on selected verses, often introducing questions for young adults to wrestle with in short studies. The second, Life, is based on selected life and connects the different issues to church related activities and faith. The final section is their blogs and contains posts associated with select current events and their impact on young adults. Check them out at this link:

Relevant Magazine

This magazine is a way to stay connected to conversations around culture and…you name it, including religion. For example, here’s a great article centered on what local congregations can offer millennials. Check them out at this link:

Terri Elton, with thanks to Alyssa Fitzgerald, Corey Lange, Kinna Nordstrom, Sara Quarberg.

Terri EltonAuthor Bio:
Terri is passionate about young people and their families, and loves the church. No really! She's our Associate Professor and teaches with an eye toward developing leaders and leading change. She also serves as Director of the Center for First Third Ministry and hopes to help ministry leaders create environments that cultivate a faith that matters. Growing up in southern California, Terri discovered her love for the city, cultural diversity and the beach. You can usually find Terri running or biking the streets of Minneapolis/St. Paul, or wherever she happens to be. When not moving, she's watching a movie with her husband or traveling with her two young adult daughters.

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