Field Guide 3: Potential for Impact
REFLECTIONS AND NEXT STEPS INSPIRED BY THE RESEARCH
You’ve seen how and why many young adults in your context have ambivalent and even negative feelings about religion and church. You’ve read about a generation wracked by anxiety about the future, and how the connected generation’s lack of connection might be a part of that. But a big question remains: What kind of connection are they looking for?
This generation is clearly engaged (or hoping to be engaged) in making a difference through 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? Read through this guide as you think about how you can match the passion of young adults in your midst with the call of Jesus.
Young adults see significant barriers to leadership. Yet many of them claim to feel like leaders in a variety of contexts:
- As this generation comes 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 young adults’ passion to address world problems with leadership opportunities?
- What do you think about the link between faith and activism? What would it look like for your church to embrace a God-centred activism? Where do you think there would be gospel-based clarity, and where would the risks be with that mindset?
- Read through the list of concerns 18–35year-olds say they care about. With the closing exercise, brainstorm some practical ways that your church might be able to engage with these concerns.
Action & activism
The data from this survey strongly suggest that young adults in your cultural context have very specific and sweeping concerns – ones shared by other members of their generation around the world. Things like climate change, pollution, extreme poverty, racism and hunger / famine are all major worries for the connected generation. But God’s people are meant to be people who care for creation, work to address poverty, oppose racism in all its forms and work to feed the hungry. Talk as a team about what kind of things you can do in your church to make your Christian commitment in these areas more visible and intentional.
Invite young adults in
One simple way to make these things a priority in your community is to invite the very people who care about them 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 young adults; work on fostering a vocational ministry that can aid in helping Millennials and Gen Z connect their faith with their work and the things they care about. Learn about the causes 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 demonstrate that the Christian faith is a driving force for robust engagement with important issues. By offering strong discipleship in how God’s people are commanded to take action in the world around them – peacefully, courageously, compassionately – you’re allowing a leadership platform for young adults 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?