Collegiates. Young adults. Millennials. 20-somethings. Will they come to your church’s Sunday School, or have they checked out church, only to check out? Will Sunday School work for young adults? If you do the following things, you’ll have a great opportunity to reach a group that’s not that hard to reach:
- Teach using an ongoing Bible study – Young adults who show up for Bible study don’t want to feel left out. Ongoing Bible studies stand alone each week as a complete and satisfying Bible study experience. Don’t use curriculum that builds from one week to the next – save that for a different occasion.
- Foster relationships through regular fellowships – People are created for relationship, and many young adults crave authentic relationships with peers. While young adults are interested in what the Bible has to say about all kinds of issues, they are also interested in meeting and knowing new people. Young adult Bible studies that have regular opportunities for fellowship outside of class scratch this relational itch.
- Go into the community and serve – Young adults want to change the world. This generation wants to make a difference, and connecting them to community service projects helps them use their time and giftedness to serve others and serve God. It’s a win-win.
- Keep the group small to mid-size – The optimal size for a Bible study group is 12, plus or minus 4. When groups grow past 16 to 18 into the 20s, the group dynamic changes. Small to mid-size groups give everyone an opportunity to participate, speak up, serve together, and know each other outside of class. As groups grow, encourage them to “franchise” and create another group so they can continue reaching new people.
- Be authentic. Younger adults can spot a fake a mile away. The best thing a group leader can do is to be him or herself, admit their shortcomings, confess they don’t have the Christian life all figured out, and present themselves as a fellow disciple on the journey of a lifetime. Authentic adult leaders resonate with young adults – probably always have.
To learn more about reaching younger adults, check out the article by LifeWay regarding college students and their attendance trends during college years. A new book by Ben Trueblood, Within Reach, explores the reasons young people leave the church and what brings them back. Ben is the director of student ministry at LifeWay.
I lead the groups ministry at my church, and I have taught Bible study groups for over two decades. I direct the work of LifeWay’s adult ongoing Bible studies team in Nashville, and LifeWay’s Sunday School/discipleship/groups trainers. Click here to jump to my home page and sign up to receive posts like this that will encourage and equip you to be a Bible study leader at your church. Pastors, teachers, and other staff leaders will benefit from these weekly posts, so sign up now!