I was a youth pastor for 15 years, and I was blessed to serve at different locations in the country and make an impact in a few hundred lives. Youth and Kids ministries are so important – it is such an important time of life. It is so important for our kids and youth to know God’s love and truth as they are making key decisions and being formed.
In my years of youth ministry there was something that consistently broke my heart: after graduation each year there was a huge number of youth who walked out on church. They did not walk out on their faith but on church, which they believed was totally irrelevant to the lives and struggles of college and post-college people. The church in the West is struggling to reach out to those who are walking out. We need to invest in Kids and Youth Ministries – AND we need to continue that investment for college and post-college. These are unique stages of life, and part of formation into adulthood.
I haven’t yet heard of any church that has this totally figured out. Covenant Grove is working to be a multi-generational church that aims to reach those who have walked out – those in their 20’s and early 30’s. We are constantly seeking to reach out more and more, and learn more ways to reach out. We have hired a college/career minister and we just launched a post-college Life Group (called Strive). We have small and big events to help grow faith – including Hume Lake, Urbana, and mission trips to join the fight against human trafficking. We are seeking to help connections be made with those who are single, couples, have kids, working, etc. These connections are important at all stages of life, but especially for those in their 20’s and early 30’s. We are also empowering young adults to lead in our church – to let them use their gifts to speak into our church and lead with God’s power.
We are still trying to do more and more to reach this generation that has walked out. We want to share our ideas with other churches and learn from other churches. My next doctoral class is about evangelism, and especially the need to reach the next generation. We also need to remember that those in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s can be reached for Jesus, too – it is never too late to share Jesus! The next generation (younger than 35) is LARGER than the Baby Boomers, but much fewer in this generation are a part of a church family and get to experience connection with those older and younger than themselves. Kids and youth are open to going to church, clubs, and youth groups – if they are invited and if their parents are willing to bring them. Those in college and post-college have generally decided that church is not relevant. Then they seek to fill the emptiness in other, often destructive, ways. We have an incredible and growing group of young adults who have chosen (against the tide) to follow Jesus in their 20’s – to serve Him and make a difference with Him. They are ambassadors to their generation, and we are supporting them as they reach out. We are all seeking to reach out – holding out the joy of Christ, the hope that only He can give, and the opportunity to change the world, one life at a time.
Pray for those you know who have walked out. The Lord is still leading – He has not given up on those who are wandering. Let’s join Him and reach out!