Tobin Perry writing for Baptist Press says, “There’s a surprising new description for unchurched young adults in the United States: spiritual. Despite popular reports that young people aren’t interested in spiritual matters, newly released survey data from LifeWay Research and the Center for Missional Research at the North American Mission Board shows the opposite to be true.”
According to the study, 73 percent of unchurched 20- to 29-year-old Americans consider themselves “spiritual” because they want to know more about “God or a higher supreme being.” That figure is 11 percent higher than among unchurched individuals who are age 30 and older.
This data is also contained in Stetzer’s book, “Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches That Reach Them.”
As we seek to reach and disciple young adults we must keep in mind that they do have a hunger for spiritual things. This is the group that wants to be mentored and wants to really know the pastor on a more personal level.
They demand more than pious words, they want to see the church in action meeting the needs of people.
This survey data also indicated that young adults have an openness to conversations about Christianity. Eighty-nine percent of unchurched young adults say they would listen to what someone believes about Christianity. That number is 14 percent higher than among those 30 and older.
Are you shocked? We’ve been led to believe that this group cannot be salvaged and are turned off by our evangelistic efforts but the very opposite is true. They are riper for the harvest than those 30 and older! As we share the Gospel we must be sincere, personal, and real because they can detect a phony a mile a way.
The survey also said that young adults also would react positively to invitations from friends to study the Bible. Survey respondents were asked to affirm the following statement: “I would be willing to study the Bible if a friend asked me to.” Sixty-one percent of 20-somethings responded, “Yes.” That’s about 20 percent higher than affirmative responses from older generations.
Granted that these adults are looking for spiritual things in many different places, but the possibility of reaching them and discipling them is also present. Home or office Bible studies are a great way to reach them. This is one way to build authentic relationships.
The church must build bridges into the lives of this age group. We must win the right to be heard and we must open doors of dialogue.
The research also noted that the unchurched young people wanted to know the church cares about them. According to the survey data, 58 percent of 20-somethings would be more likely to attend if people at the church “cared for them as a person.”
The bottom line is…do we really care? Have we too soon thrown in the towel on this group? What is your church doing to reach and disciple this age group? Is it just the SOS plan (same old stuff) or are you intentionally aiming at reaching this age group.
Why not pull together some of the young adults in your church and listen to what they have to say. Allow them to brainstorm their ideas for reaching their own peers. Maybe read together Essential Church which aims at reaching this age group. (Tools for an Essential Church helps you build a process for reaching young adults) Develop your own plans for what will work in your context and then go after them.
You might be surprised at what you develop and you might be surprised at the response.
NOTE: Be sure to put on your calendar Super Saturday training. One of our teaching tracks will be reaching this age group.
Dates & Locations
August 22 Immanuel Baptist Church, Lexington
August 29 Severns Valley BC, Elizabethtown
September 12 First Baptist Church, Somerset
September 12 First Baptist Church, Paducah
September 19 First Baptist Church, Pikeville
September 19 Zion Baptist Church, Henderson
Thanks for the comment. Yes we must intentionally do more to reach and keep young adults. They are our future!
If most churches are like mine, this also greatly affects those young Christian adults that ARE churched. I think they just really don’t know where they fit in anymore and consequently, find other places to “fit in”. We are losing one of our most valuable assets and unfortunately, some of them never return.
I have long thought that our young people are much more spiritually sensitive than we’ve been giving them credit for. This tells us that if we are losing them from our churches, it’s not because of God but because we are failing to do a good job in discipling them. All of us you are older Christians need to be challenged by this.