I just graduated from college, and aside from trying to find a real grown-up job, the hardest part about being a 20-something is the lack of ministry geared toward people my age. In most churches around my area, there are either college Bible studies or Bible studies for married 30-somethings with three kids. Singles, newlyweds, and 20-somethings have to choose between joining a group with whom they can’t relate or forgoing Bible study at all.
Granted, I’m from the rural Midwest, so my choices in ministries are pretty limited, but I think that a lot of 20-somethings feel left out when it comes to church involvement, especially those who aren’t married. Being involved in a Christian community is crucial in growing in our faith, and when that involvement is lacking, we can feel excluded or unfulfilled.
To be fair, 20-somethings are somewhat hard to identify with. From unemployed college graduates to people who are just starting their career to those pursuing higher education, there’s a wide range of individuals bracketed in this age group, making it hard for those with a stable career and fulfilling marriage to relate to them.
Because of this, one key aspect to 20-something ministry is to have a Bible study or small group be led by a 20-something. Of course, I’m not encouraging pastors who aren’t in their twenties to not minister to these people. Rather, I’m offering the suggestion that these young adults will relate better to a peer than to someone who is removed from that season of life. Just as I’m not able to relate to high schoolers anymore (what is swag, anyway?), someone in their 40s won’t identify with a 20-something as well as a peer would.
It’s also important to keep in mind the different preferences this group will have regarding scheduling and hanging out. They’ll perhaps be more inclined to have a Bible study on Wednesday and a movie night on Friday, and they’ll be able to chat for an hour or two after small group has ended because they don’t have to relieve a babysitter. With more flexible schedules and a strong desire for community, this age group is more concerned about relationships than a schedule.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention social media when talking about my age group. My advice? Use it to enhance ministry; don’t rely on it. Create a private Facebook group for your small group Bible study and use it to communicate prayer requests to the entire group. Use social media to advertise a Bible study, but recognize that most people won’t come without a personal invitation unless they’re already connected to your ministry.
Really, ministering to 20-somethings is easy once you recognize what they value: community, relationships, and faith. Most are earnestly seeking a relationship with God and with others their age who will encourage them in their faith walk. Don’t get hung up on the fact that their lives look different than those who are older or younger; acknowledge that this group is different, but capitalize on their desire to become connected and help them find their niche in your church.
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