By Steven Ackley
The goal for young adult ministry can be explained in many different ways by many different people. Some may say that the aim is to create a space for this demographic to grow together. Some may describe it as a way to reach those in their 20s with the hope of the gospel. Some may say it’s to prepare future generations of the church. In each description, one ingredient that I often find missing is the goal help young adults integrate into the larger life of the local church.
So, how do you promote and accomplish generational connection in your church and specifically through your young adult ministry? Here are five ways that integration can happen.
1. Create avenues for the meaningful service and participation of young adults in your church.
This means more than looking for childcare workers. Give young adults opportunities to teach, lead, and hold other visible serving roles in your church. This may be teaching kids, students, or their peers or through service opportunities in other ministry areas.
2. Grow young adults through leadership roles.
This is slightly different than meaningful service opportunities because it specifically refers to roles the church considers prominent leaders. These roles could be deacons, board members, staff, and pastoral roles. It could also be platform roles that display visible leadership of an individual. If we desire to raise up and empower the next generation, we must begin doing so now.
3. Consider your corporate worship gatherings.
If your church’s worship gatherings are delineated by the generation, then there is a strong chance they are aiding in generational isolation. I contend that the one of best ways for churches to integrate young adults into the larger life of the church is to maintain regular worship gatherings. Doing so shows young adults the rest of the church and vice versa.
4. Teach and celebrate stewardship.
Just as the parable of the poor widow’s offering in Mark 12 demonstrates the power and faithfulness of one who gave significantly from what they have, so can the story of a young adult that gives sacrificially of what they have. Teach and celebrate the generosity of your young adults.
5. Empower and celebrate sending.
When possible funnel your young adults to be going on mission faithfully to local places—including their workplaces and schools—and to the ends of the earth. This will demonstrate their ability to lead in sending, which will draw out a desire for support and participation among other generations.
Integrating young adults into the life of the church is vitally important. At some point, they will no longer be young adults. The last thing we want to happen in our churches is to feed the idea that the generations are best reached and discipled separately. Find ways to integrate young adults into the life of the church. We want them to love the church, not just our ministries. And we want them to love the church long after their days as a young adult.
Steven Ackley, his wife Emily, and their four kids live out their love for anything sports and Cookout milkshakes in Murfreesboro, TN where Steven serves as the NextGen and College Pastor at LifePoint Church. Steven holds a D.Min. and an MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.