Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What reaches young adults? 3 free giveways

I’ve just had an essay, titled “What reaches young adults?”, published in Australian Leadership. It was a commissioned piece and the entire edition is focused around generational mission, including pieces by Fuzz Kitto and Heidi Harding.

Subscription is $68 (Australian); $78 NZ for 6 editions per year from Mediacom (go here for e-version). As author, I got a few free copies, which I thought I would offer as a freebie. I will send a copy of Australian Leadership to the first 3 people to comment on blog and provide a one paragraph biography of the person who was most influential in your young adult spiritual formation!

The article took a snapshot of a number of “young adult spirituality” moments in 2010 – from Blake Prize to Father Bob. Given that I was writing for a more mainline church context, I was particularly pleased with my concluding paragraphs.

If you have 0 young adults, then pray for them. Regularly use your prayers of intercession to pray for young adults. But choose your words carefully. Given the emerging trend of popular culture, you will need to find words to bless, rather than critique, their spiritual search.

If you have 1 young adult, then offer a traveling companion. Place this offer on the front of your weekly newsletter. Ask people in your church to become as curious as Father Bob, to ask a young adult to take you to the Blake Prize or the Big Day Out. Not to speak, but to listen. The aim is not to make Jesus relevant, but instead, to simply share, only when asked, your story of how your God-experience has daily legs.

If you have 5 young adults, ask to join them in a shared project. One example could be some shared, mutual action, a giving of legs to faith. Perhaps cleaning up a local stream. In other words, gather not around belief, nor around worship, but around mission action. (More examples can be found at the www.morepraxis.org.au, a ministry of the Uniting church in Victoria.)

Another example could be a conversation, similar in shape to espresso, one of the young adult congregations I helped plant. It began by inviting young adults to write down their questions about life and faith. These were thrown into a bowl. Together, some guidelines by which a culture of irreverent questions might flourish were agreed and discussion began. As one voice among many, the need for faith to grow by including irreverence was encouraged.

If you have 20 or more young adults, then you have a gift. Something to be shared not just with yourself, but with the wider body of Christ. Your task includes inviting them to put legs on 1 Corinthians 12:22 “those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” And how to partner with neighbouring churches who have fewer young adults than you.

Free to first 3 blog commenters to describe the person who most influenced them as a young adult!

Posted by steve at 02:46 PM


  1. young adult spiritual formation?
    mom is who rises to the top of my mind. loved God. easily visible reading the Word daily.
    consistent prayer warrior. even now with alzheimers she doesn’t miss a beat in taking
    everything to God. good and faithful friend to others, leading by example. wouldn’t miss
    a service ~ if there was a way to attend, we were there “) hospitality was huge – to new
    or familiar alike. doors open, welcome mat waiting, coffee pot on. loyalty throughout
    years of friendships… amazing woman. i’ve been blessed!

    Comment by sharon — March 15, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

  2. congratulations Sharon. You are the first. If you can send me your address details to my email – steve at emergentkiwi dot org dot nz

    Comment by steve — March 15, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

  3. Hi Stave
    I had not one but many who influenced me on my wayward journey towards Christ and his leadership. I had one lady praying for me. God woke her many times from her sleep to pray for my safety. This is a lady who I beleave with Gods help is one of the reasons I am here today. She didnt tell me any of this until I had ears that wanted to hear and a heart that was open to listening. I had a youth leader tell me the hard truth about the consaquences of my wayward actions.. The words were always at the back of my mind.. And when they(the words)came to pass I was able to respond in a humble way, not out of anger but out of a broken spirit ready to hear what I was running from. After this I had another lady help me with my day to day living, taking me and my children to church events like Mainly music and out for coffee for time out when I needed it. Again another lady prayed and read the bible with me, She helped by being the mouth of God and one by one together healing my hurting heart and soul as I was rebuilt and learning how to love and be loved, how to have a gentle heart and open eyes..thus bring me closer to Gods and the plans he has for me..
    For me it was a ‘village’ that influenced me as a younge adult.
    Keeping me alive. Telling me what I didnt want to hear. Loving me the way I needed to be loved and showing me the voice of God and how to respond.

    Comment by Kristi — March 15, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  4. Kristi, You are the second. Thanks for sharing so openly. Love the multi-faceted nature of your story.

    If you can send me your address details to my email – steve at emergentkiwi dot org dot nz, I will post it to you.

    Comment by steve — March 15, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  5. My solicitor while awaiting sentencing lead me on the beginning of my journey with Christ. Here I am 17 yrs later with a Bmin and setting of on my journey with many others in ministry.

    Comment by Tony Jee — March 15, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

  6. Tony, you are the third. Thanks for sharing so powerfully.

    If you can send me your address details to my email – steve at emergentkiwi dot org dot nz, I will post the full journal to you.


    Comment by steve — March 15, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  7. Hi Steve, I read the article today, so don’t need a copy. I thought it was really insightful and practical for church situations. Thanks very much. It takes a little time to help the dominant generation of any congregation to understand that their expectations are not the point of gathering to worship but an encounter with God that makes sense to those who are gathered, therefore what makes sense needs to be as varied as those who are gathered.
    I’m listening to Bob Dylan’s “Freewheeln'” as I’m writing this, where does that put me?

    Comment by Craig Mischewski — March 15, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

  8. Craig, that’s so helpful to hear re the article being insightful and practical. That’s exactly what I was hoping – to be useful on the ground.

    Maybe you should run a competition yourself – you give something to the person who guesses your age based on Bob Dylan’s “Freewheeln’” 🙂


    Comment by steve — March 15, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

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