The Evangelical Alliance have produced a very helpful resource off the back of researching young adults – the resource is called ‘7 conversations’ - seven conversations your church needs to have to reach young adults.
It’s based around 7 rooms of a home - here's a brief summary:
1. The Hallway – ‘I walked through the door and it felt like I’d come home.” The first conversation is about Welcome – the welcome we communicate to young adults – above and beyond a handshake and a smile.
Is this a community I can belong to?
2. The Living Room – A conversation about discipleship in ‘circles’ as well as ‘rows’. The importance of smaller spaces where people can relax and be with others, be vulnerable, form relationships are absolutely vital in the faith journeys of young adults.
3. The Study – what young adults are looking for from leaders and influencers is fundamentally changing. They want accessibility. Rather than looking for competence, charisma or strategic focus …. they are looking for integrity, humility and passion, and in order to see that they want to draw alongside leaders, and so leaders will need to grant them access to our lives. They also want to see collaboration, and so a chat over coffee works better than business consultation.
Relationship is everything for this generation.
4. The Kitchen – This conversation is about how teaching is prepared and delivered. With such a huge digital shift and how people access information through the internet, we need to remember the power of story, image, metaphor and creativity.
Storytelling should be central to how we share the key truths of the Bible.
Jesus is an excellent role model…’A man was walking from Jerusalem to Jericho…’ We must be more Christ-like in our communication.
5. The Dining Room – this is about the difficult conversations, like a family might have around the dining table. Doubt – Racial Justice – Mental Health – Sexuality – Identity – the Environment.
Many young adults leave church because they are not given the space to wrestle with or voice their struggles and doubts.
Providing a space to make that happen is just so important.
6. The Games Room – a conversation about participation – there’s a real tension between consumerism and yet wanting to play their part to make a difference – not just consume but to ‘like’, to ‘share’, to ‘comment’. Even Saturday Night TV has changed to be very interactive and even those at home get to influence the outcome.
One guy came to church after the Alpha Course and asked ‘where’s the food’ and ‘why can’t I discuss the talk afterwards?’
It’s also about activating and involving young adults in all kinds of ministries.
7. The Garden – this is a conversation about evangelism. The garden is where things grow, but how do young adults come to faith? Firstly, there’s the landscape. The soil in our world is quite hard, the prevailing wind of culture is post-Christian, pluralistic, liberal and secular as well as suspicion of things that explain everything, authority and institution.
But the good news is that younger generations tend to be more open to spirituality and many have engaged with online church through the pandemic.
Research has shown around 30-50% of all 18-30’s checked out church online. When they come to faith it’s almost always through a friend, colleague, family member or neighbour. As the most connected generation, we need to equip and inspire this generation to share their faith with their friends. A second thread is linked to their sense of belonging in the communities that they are invited into.
'7 Conversations' is an excellent suite of interactive, integrated resources.