Leader spots 4 keys to engaging young adults
Kelly Shrout
August 29, 2008

Leader spots 4 keys to engaging young adults

Leader spots 4 keys to engaging young adults
Kelly Shrout
August 29, 2008


Tenn.,– Young adults make up a new demographic

within churches, and ministry as usual will not cut it for a generation seeking

depth, authenticity and answers to the hard matters of faith.


said Jason Hayes, young adult specialist with Threads, the 3-year-old young

adult ministry initiative of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern

Baptist Convention.


spoke during the Connect Conference held Aug. 25-26 in Nashville, Tenn. The

conference, geared for leaders of young adults, offered several sessions that

revealed recent statistics about young adults ages 18-34. The conference also

included main teaching sessions, breakout small-group discussions and a

question-and-answer panel forum.


statistics offer a challenge and an opportunity for ministry with young adults,

Hayes told the attendees.


don’t view these statistics as a problem, but a chance for God’s name to be

great among a generation that is spiritual, but not religious,” he said.


outlined four markers, or pillars, of things that matter most to young adults.

The markers were developed from an extensive eight-month survey of young adults

from varied geographic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.


survey results helped the Threads team pinpoint the following needs of young

adults: community, depth, responsibility and connection.




we found is that young adults desire to do life together,” Hayes said.

“They desire relational equity and community that goes beyond casual

hellos. They want to pour their lives into each other.”

Hayes said community should

endorse a connection between a Christian’s actions and personal convictions.

Community also should minimize church jargon, provide an atmosphere where it’s

okay to not know all the answers, provide personal illustration, and encourage

life application.


all, community among young adults must be biblical,” Hayes said. “It

will be a failure if we raise a generation who are just friends. Growing in the

likeness of Christ is essential.”




also encouraged the young adult leaders to provide depth in their ministries.


we found in our research is that young adults who are churched are saying, ‘If

we are going to stand for truth in a world that is not standing for truth, we

want to be equipped,’” Hayes said. “The unchurched are saying, ‘We

are not going to make a decision at face value. We want to make informed

decisions when it comes to matters of faith.’”


adult leaders must engage in theology, apologetics and offer insight on

worldviews and other religions, he advised.


the whole Bible, foster discussion and answer the difficult questions of

faith,” he said. “Offer quality, exegetical Bible teaching and sing

theologically sound music that accurately depicts the Word of God.”




churched young adults, responsibility comes in the form of service, evangelism

and missions. For unchurched young adults, social action and global

responsibility are a huge priority.


both church and unchurched young adults, we have found that both recognize that

their choices make a difference and they want to improve the world around

them,” Hayes said. “As a result of this heightened sense of

responsibility, we can help create a door for service and evangelism.”


a connection


we continue to understand younger adults and what they’re looking for, we must

recognize the heavy value they place on connecting with people who have more

life experience than they do,” Hayes said. “Some would call this

mentoring or cross-generational ministry. The bottom line is that they want to

learn from someone else’s experiences. They’re looking for a connection with

the church and a connection with people who are willing to walk alongside them

and give a little advice here and there.”


encouraged the attendees to connect personal application to convictions.

“If an absence exists between what you say and what you do, young adults

will become quickly disinterested,” he said. “If you desire for your

church to be a healthy body that raises the banner of intergenerational

ministry, you need to personally invest in this generation as well.”


next Connect Conference will be held Sept. 4-5 in Charlotte, N.C. For more

information about the young adult ministry at LifeWay, visit www.threadsmedia.com.