Young Adult Ministry

Engaging #Exvangelical: Three Tips for Church Leaders

By Jacob Bier

In recent years there have been growing fears within evangelical churches concerning the decline of young adult church attendance. Simply put, churches are continuing to see the younger generations walk away from the faith.

A number of social media movements such as #Exvangelical, #ChurchToo, and #EmptyThePews have drawn further attention to this phenomenon. These trends have given way to the proliferation of so-called deconversion stories on blogs and podcasts. In a deconversion story, people air their grievances with their former Christian tradition before detailing their journey into an alternative, and usually more secular, version. Common reasons given by #Exvangelicals for leaving their church include Biblical literalism, matters of social justice, and anti-LGBTQ stances.

Lest anyone think that these deconversion stories are coming from random people on Twitter, many public Christian figures have spoken of their own deconversions, including Jen Hatmaker (teacher and author of many women’s books), Joshua Harris (former pastor and author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye), and Jonathan Steingard (lead singer of the Christian rock band Hawk Nelson). These stories have made an impact beyond evangelical circles, even reaching the pages of prominent news outlets like The New Yorker and Christianity Today.

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Barna Study: Strong Relationships Within Church Add to Resilient Faith in Young Adults

"In Faith for Exiles, co-authors David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock discuss five practices that contribute to resilient discipleship and flourishing faith in young adults. Today, in an excerpt from this research, we’ll take a closer look at one of the main aspects of resilience—relationships" - Barna

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Nearly half of young adults with ties to Christianity say church can’t answer their questions: survey

New Barna Research: "Forty-seven percent of respondents with some connection to Christianity say they feel the Church 'cannot answer their questions' or spiritual doubts. According to the study, one in three young adults (32 percent) said 'hypocrisy of religious people' causes them to doubt things of a spiritual dimension. Almost half of the young adults who have left Christianity see the religion as 'hypocritical.'" - Christian Post

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The Other Gap Theory

The full length version of this article appears in the November/December issue of Voice magazine.

When we walk into a local grocery store in the U.S., we face an abundance of choices unlike anywhere else in the world. The cereal aisle alone is a great example of how companies strive to offer something for everyone. We see cereals for the health-conscious and sugary cereals with cartoon-filled boxes promising delicious taste, unique shapes and hidden toy prizes. We see cereals for those who like fruit, for those who like sweetness, for those who need fiber, and for those who just like their breakfast plain and simple.

American churches have also adopted this trend of specialization. Almost all churches strive to have something for everyone. Babies and infants have a nursery. Toddlers and preschoolers have their own class. Many churches offer Children’s Church for grade-school kids. And youth ministries have been developed to meet the needs of adolescents as they progress through junior high and high school. Many churches also offer adult women’s and men’s ministries and classes for married couples and senior saints.

But this church structure has flaws.

The gap for singles

A gap exists in this common ministry structure—one that poses a danger to the future of many churches. Churches provide ministry for children and young people from birth through high school, and beyond that age, adult ministries usually range from young married’s classes through ministries to the elderly members.

This structure would be perfect for young people who get married right out of high school; they can transition from the youth group to the young marrieds group. But what about the vast majority of high school graduates who move on to college or enter the workforce and remain single?

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