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Where Are All the Young People?: An Exploration of Young Adults, Spirituality, and Their Experiences of Church Rocky Mountain Conference Growth Ministry.

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Presentation on theme: "Where Are All the Young People?: An Exploration of Young Adults, Spirituality, and Their Experiences of Church Rocky Mountain Conference Growth Ministry."— Presentation transcript:

1 Where Are All the Young People?: An Exploration of Young Adults, Spirituality, and Their Experiences of Church Rocky Mountain Conference Growth Ministry Team United Church of Christ Fall 2012

2 Introduction Common Questions: Where are all the young people? Why dont young adults go to church anymore? What are the myths and realities behind these questions?

3 Young Adults Usually 18 to 29 years old Known as Millennials, Gen Y, Global Generation, Generation Next, Mosaics, etc.

4 Young Adults (cont.) Technological exceptionalism

5 Young Adults Priorities

6 The Reality LifeWay Research: 7 in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 who went to church regularly in high school quit attending by age 23. A third of those had not returned by age 30. That means about one-fourth of young Protestants have left the church. The Barna Group: 6 in 10 young people will leave the church permanently or for an extended period starting at age 15. 2012 Millennial Values Survey: College-age millennials are 30 percent more likely than the general population to be religiously unaffiliated. Millennials report lower levels of religious engagement across the board. Just one in four says he or she attends religious services at least once a week, while 43 percent say they seldom or never attend. Nearly half of younger millennials still live with their parents, but those who live at home are no more likely to attend church than those who do not.

7 The Reality (cont.) The Faith Communities Today (FACT) 2010 Study: Over 52% of oldline Protestant churches report that one-third of individuals in their congregations are 65 and older. The UCC was the second highest (only behind the UPUSA) in percentage of congregations with 33% or more members older than 65. 75% of mainline/oldline Protestant churches have less than 10% of their participants between the ages of 18 to 34.

8 Spiritual vs. Religious


10 The Barna Group Research Study Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church 1.Churches seem overprotective. 2.Teens and twentysomethings experience of Christianity is shallow. 3.Churches come across as antagonistic to science. 4.Young Christians church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental. 5.They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity. 6.The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.

11 The Barna Group Research Study (cont.) Five Myths About Young Adult Church Dropouts 1.Most people lose their faith when they leave high school. 2.Dropping out of church is just a natural part of young adults maturation. 3.College experiences are the key factor that cause young people to drop out. 4.This generation of young Christians is increasingly biblically illiterate. 5.Young people will come back to the church like they always do.

12 What Are the Churchs Options? Minimizing the Concerns of Young Adults Catering to the Concerns of Young Adults Balance: - Egalitarianism -Relationship Building -Intergenerational Community

13 Best Practices "Churches, organizations and families owe this generation more. They should be treated as the intelligent, capable individuals they area generation with a God-given destiny. Renewed commitment is required to rethink and realign disciple-making in this new context. Mosaic believers need better, deeper relationships with other adult Christians. They require a more holistic understanding of their vocation and calling in lifehow their faith influences what they do with their lives, from Monday through Saturday. - David Kinnamon, You Lost Me

14 Best Practices (cont.) Create environments in the congregation and in the community for the development of community and friendships. Engage emerging adults in short-term and long-term service and social justice projectslocally and globallythat connect faith and action, and promote engagement in the faith community. Support emerging adults in addressing the career, work, and economic issues in their lives, while connecting faith to these issues. Use Web 2.0 technologies and digital media to connect with emerging adults and engage them in faith formation experiences. [Web 2.0 connotes a website that is built for interaction and information creation and sharing among individuals, as opposed to a Web 1.0 website in which users can only passively view content.]

15 Best Practices (cont.) Develop a multi-dimensional formation process for marriage [and relationships] that deepens the faith of the couple, prepares them for [partnered] life, provides mentoring and support, and continues formation and support in the early years of [partnership]. Provide pastoral careeducational programs and support groupsthat promote positive development and address the mental health concerns and issues of emerging adults and, when needed, connect them to mental health services in the community. - John Roberto, Directions for Faith Formation with Emerging Adults: Insights from the Changing SEA Project,

16 Some Cautions… Three faulty assumptions that many of us make when thinking about young adults and the future of the church: WE can build a ministry for young adults. There is such a thing as a young adult. Young adults will help the church I love to live on! - The Churchs Doomed Pursuit of the Elusive Young Adult – Bruce Reyes-Chow, 9/1/2012 (

17 Some Good News Many formerly churched millennials say they harbor no ill will toward Christianity and see an open door for their possible return to the fold. In Essential Church, Thom and Sam Rainer said the "dechurched" often need nothing more than a gentle nudge from family or friends to reconnect. Four in 10 "rechurched" individuals in their study said parents or other family members were instrumental in their return to church. Another two out of 10 said they returned to church with encouragement from friends or acquaintances. - Essential Church: Reclaiming A Generation of Dropouts, Thom and Sam Rainer (2008)

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