A Church Family For Young Adults (& Everyone Else)

A Church Family For Young Adults (& Everyone Else)


Katelyn Beaty is author of A Woman’s Place: A Christian Vision for Your Calling in the Office, the Home, and the World. She speaks regularly on professional work, singleness and women’s issues. Learn more at KatelynBeaty.com.

Q: Career development and vocation are a top priority for a lot of young adults, often more so than marriage and parenting. How can churches keep this in mind as they minister to and support young adults? What does it look like to nurture the relational or mental health of these groups, whose identity may stem from their title, or whose community might center around their workplace?


Churches must provide a robust theology of work and vocation that prioritizes work done in the “secular” world as much as work done in the world of formal ministry. Churches can help young adults see their workplaces as seedbeds of personal and kingdom transformation. Many young adults are searching for meaning in their daily work—they want to know that their work “matters.” Churches can provide young adults with a theological framework for understanding the spiritual meaning of their work, even and especially when that work seems rote or unglamorous.

A church family can also be helpful when it comes to navigating relationships outside the immediate family. For instance, if we are working a full-time job, it typically means we are spending more waking hours with our coworkers than with anyone else, often including our families. Workplace relationships have a profound effect on our well-being. Church leaders can provide tools that help us manage conflict, communicate well and build trust in any important relationship in our lives.

Churches can also help ambitious young adults find their ultimate identity in who God says they are, not in what they do and accomplish. That comes from faithfully preaching the gospel and from creating communities where people are celebrated for who they are, not what they do.

Q: Barna has found evidence across a number of studies that young adults, especially young women, are struggling with feelings of loneliness, disconnection and isolation. What are some ways that churches could help young women, whatever their family situation, to experience a deeper sense of community?


One obvious answer is simply to create community—to offer plenty of opportunities for women in various life stages to connect with each other through deep conversation, fun and rest. The local church can be a primary place for young adults to find connection in the midst of changes in job, location and relationship status, especially in their early- to mid20s, when life feels very in flux.

But the loneliness and isolation that many young women experience probably won’t be solved by one-off church events. We have to address the ways that digital technology isolates many young people, including Christians, from real connection, even as it makes us feel more connected than ever. Churches can provide theological resources and spiritual tools that keep technology in its proper place, and that create opportunity for in-theflesh connection and community.

Q: Married adults are more likely than singles to report feeling loved, safe, satisfied with life and relationships, happy “to be myself” and confident, while singles are more prone to negative feelings like loneliness and discouragement about the future. How can churches help singles fill the gap? What should single Christians ask of their faith community?


Churches have a crucial role to play in providing a positive and life-giving narrative of singleness, one that emphasizes its blessings and freedoms. This is a core biblical principle, but unfortunately, many single Christians, myself included, have experienced a Christian subculture that envisions marriage and family as the highest or best calling. Instead, churches can teach that no one life situation is better than the other, that each has its unique blessings and challenges.

Single Christians should ask their faith communities to make sure they are visible in church leadership. If all of the visible leaders in a church community are married with kids, that can unhelpfully reinforce the notion that marriage and family are required for effective ministry—but Jesus and Paul seem to think differently.

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