About a month ago, I had the opportunity to sit in on a local gathering of Young Adult Ministers. It’s been interesting to compare and contrast their work with the work of College Ministry, and this is the third (and probably last?) post looking at thoughts following that lunch. (The first post is here and the second is here. You can also see similar observations after a Youth Ministers’ lunch right here.)
Today, three more thoughts.
the spectrum is larger than ours
In the first post, I noted that what “Young Adult Ministry” means varies pretty widely place-to-place. It might mean Singles aged 23 to 29 at one church, and somewhere else it might include anybody “post-college, pre-family, married or single.”
But within individual young adult ministries, I think there might be a broader audience spectrum (in some senses) than we have in our college ministries. Right now, for instance, many young adult ministries serve Millennials, members of Gen X, and those in-betweeners (like me) who don’t completely identify with either. On the other hand, we campus ministers are almost always able to focus on serving one generation at a time.
Likewise, many young adult ministries nowadays do have married couples as well as singles. They have a wide variety of occupations represented, along with some full-time grad students or nontraditional students. Young Adults have widely divergent levels of education, too (whereas we’re generally reaching the “completed some college” crowd, of course). Young adults also likely live in a wide variety of local areas (at least in larger cities); many college ministries’ audiences probably live within a three-mile radius!
If I was a young adult minister, I could probably point out other ways that audience varies. But in any case, I’d say their audiences probably vary on certain axes a lot more than ours do.
they get to tell us what to do
Maybe Young Adult ministers don’t exactly get to tell us college ministers what to do, but I do believe – strongly – that we should be getting some cues from them about how we disciple students. Just as I wish Youth Ministers would ask us how to best prepare future collegians, we need to listen more and more to Young Adult ministers.
What are our Christian students lacking when they leave our ministries? And… what do they need in order to succeed when they step into the “real world”? Young Adult ministers may be better prepared to answer these questions for us than anybody.
it’s a newer field
One fascinating realization is that “modern Young Adult Ministry” is really quite new. With the marriage-age dramatically shifting over the last decade, there are suddenly high numbers of 20- and 30-somethings who aren’t married but will be someday. And even many of the married young adults are finding companionship with other young adults (married or single); the real life-stage marker now seems to be having kids, not saying your vows.
In other words, this certainly doesn’t seem to be the same field as good ‘ol “Singles Ministry” of the 1990s.
So while we college ministers (rightly) groan about the lack of development in our field of ministry, we have decades of experiences to learn from. For today’s Young Adult Ministers, it’s kind of a brave new world, isn’t it?