Wednesday, October 21, 2009

emerging adults and emerging church

Christianity Today has a feature “Lost in Transition“, exploring emerging adult research and a new book, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults, by sociologist Christian Smith. It is based on the fact that sociologically, about 12 years currently exists between being a young person and settling down to family. It includes a fascinating suggestion that young adults fit into 6 broad categories: Traditionalist (15%); Selecting adherents (30%); Spiritually open (15%); Religiously indifferent (25%); Religiously disconnected (5%); Irreligious (10%).

The missiologist in me wants to be asking if churches in Australasia (having watched today this TV program regarding the future of Sydney Anglicanism) currently strong in young adult ministry are actually only more likely to be targetting/reinforcing belief among say the Traditionalist.

Here were some quotes that struck me: Firstly in response to the question: Do emerging adults like the emergent church?

The bottom-line answer is yes. Emergent churches are on to something that seems to connect better with this wave of young people … Where it exists, your average emerging adult would find it more intriguing and more engaging than a traditional approach. But I would caution that emerging adults are smart about when they are being marketed to. So if the emergent church doesn’t offer something genuinely different from what emerging adults have too much of already, they’re not going to give it two seconds of attention.

Second, the essential role of parents in faith development.

The most important factor is parents. For better or worse, parents are tremendously important in shaping their children’s faith trajectories.

Third, the need for churches and leadership with creativity and imagination!

To connect with emerging adults is going to take more creativity and initiative than I see at the moment.

Posted by steve at 03:58 PM


  1. Can you give me a SHORT definition of what an EMERGING ADULT is in your mind?

    Comment by Ingrid — October 23, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

  2. done in the 2nd sentence of the post: “sociologically, about 12 years currently exists between being a young person and settling down to family.”



    Comment by steve — October 23, 2009 @ 4:58 pm

  3. Actually, what I was wondering about is more the term ‘EMERGING’. I don’t know where I was, when these strange creatures decided to emerge, but it seems I missed something. Thanks for your smile. Consider yourself being smiled back at. I still have not figured out how to work those icons.

    Comment by Ingrid — October 23, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

  4. I thought by Emerging Adults they mean Emerging Church Adults. But even by reading here and there about this Emerging Church, I cannot quite figure out what that is. So maybe I should have rather asked for your definition of Emerging Church.

    Comment by Ingrid — October 23, 2009 @ 10:04 pm

  5. “1. In Acts 2, the Spirit comes and one of the signs of the Spirit is that people heard in their own language.
    2. That work continues today, as the Spirit continues to desire that people hear God in their own language. That for me, is how I see the term emerging/ent church.”

    more here – toward end of post –


    Comment by steve — October 25, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

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