Field Guide 3: Potential for Impact
REFLECTIONS AND NEXT STEPS INSPIRED BY THE RESEARCH
You’ve read about how young adults in your country feel about spirituality, God and Christianity – and you’ve seen what Christian young adults are hoping to find at church. You’ve heard about a generation wracked by anxiety about the future, and how fostering connection can help alleviate that. But a big question remains: What kind of connections are they looking for?
This generation is clearly engaged (or hoping to be engaged) in making a difference for causes they care about. They show a strong willingness to get involved or even lead when they have a shared sense of mission. Might this be a place of overlap for your community to minister to young adults in your context? As you read through this guide, think about how you can match the passion of Christian young adults with the call of Jesus.
- Read through the list of fears young adults say their generation faces, paying particular attention to those fears expressed by people in your region. For which of these fears does Christianity have some hope to offer?
- Young Christians – the future leaders of the Church in your country – also see significant challenges to leadership. Around 25 percent of this generation have never considered themselves a leader. As young adults come into positions of leadership in your culture and in your church, what are some ways you can begin to address these leadership barriers? How can you connect your young church members’ passion to address world problems with growth and leadership opportunities?
- Read through the list of fears 18–35-yearolds say they face. With the concluding exercise below, brainstorm some practical ways that your church might be able to engage with these anxieties.
Action & activism
The data from this survey strongly suggest that young adults in your cultural context have both very specific and sweeping concerns, ones shared by other members of their generation around the world. Issues like corruption, climate change, pollution, extreme poverty, racism and natural disasters are all major worries for young adults – Christian and non-Christian alike – in your region. God’s people are meant to care for his creation, work to address poverty, oppose racism in all its forms and feed the hungry. The good news is many young Christians are learning to connect their faith in Jesus to these problems. Talk as a team about what you can do in your church to make your Christian commitment to these areas more visible and intentional and form practical steps that young Christians can take to put their faith into social action.
Invite young adults in
One simple way to make these things a priority in your community is to invite the very people who are concerned about these things to be part of the solution. Talk to the young adults in your church – are there any who have a passion for addressing any of these issues? Are they ready to be a leader in this area?
This kind of invitational leadership can also help young adults in your community feel they are overcoming the barriers they see to leadership. It also provides an immediate witness to the surrounding culture: You are saying – rightly! – that God is concerned with the fears expressed by young adults, and that you trust their generation to help bring about God’s hope in these anxieties.
Provide a real launchpad
Your church can also help young adults learn how to lead and equip them to lead with success. Consider forming a mentorship program, connecting older leaders in your church with younger Christians. Work on fostering a ministry that can aid in helping young Christians connect their faith with their work and the causes they care about. Learn what they care about and support and release them to form their own communities of action. Remind them, in sermons, prayer and budget, that faith and action are absolutely linked.
This may become even more apparent once you begin to develop the young leaders in your midst. As they do their part to carry out God’s mission in the world, they are demonstrating that the Christian faith is a driving force for robust engagement with important issues. By offering strong formation in how God’s people are commanded to take action in and care about the world around them, you’re allowing a leadership platform for young Christians who can make a huge difference in the world around them.
How Might the Church and the Way of Jesus Offer Hope in the Midst of These Concerns?
Hunger / famine