A Pastor's Perspective on Young Adults

February 24, 2015

"For a long time, we’ve been talking about the need to minister better to young adults. We see our churches aging. We recognize that when the kids grew up, they quit coming to church. More than 60 percent of those who were in the church as kids have now disconnected in their 20s and 30s. We recognize the problem.

We know we should do something. But we fear that becoming young-adult-friendly means changes to our worship service. We fear that accepting younger people means softening our standards or compromising our beliefs. But if we are going to reconnect with young people, we must move beyond fear toward connection. 

Many of those who left still have a vibrant faith journey. But they didn’t connect. They quit coming to church because there was nobody to journey with them when they were uncertain. There was nobody to process with them when they had deep questions about faith or science or social issues. So they left. 

The tragedy is that the gap between our church and those who left is widening. If we have hope for a strong Advent movement that will carry the message of Jesus into the coming decades, now is the time to reverse the trend. Today’s young people are desperate to connect with others who care about their journeys and are interested in their faith. They want to be part of something that matters. They want spiritual parents and grandparents who can process with them the complexities of a believing life. They want a safe place to be able to grow and develop their understanding of God and His kingdom. That’s why it’s time that we learn from our young people. It’s time to listen without judgment. It’s time to hear their stories and learn about their journeys. It’s time to learn from the past so that we may have the opportunity to experience the future together."

Jonathan Russell, Sunnyside Church associate pastor