"Whoever says He abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked." 1 John 2:6 ESV
However you spent your young adult years, you can probably agree that it involved many questions, changes and decisions— ones which not only affected your immediate future, but years, and sometimes even decades, down the road.
From choosing a college, to choosing a job to choosing a spouse, the list goes on.
Yes, we face important decisions our entire adult lives, but it's the decisions we make during our young adult years which lay the foundation for all future decisions.
Despite this being a pivotal time in a person's life, it's one which is often neglected by the church. We dedicate ministries to kids and teens, but what about after high school? Do we continue to invest just as much time, effort and resources into them? Do we do whatever we can to help them make God-led decisions or do we let the world take our place and be their go-to source for wisdom?
In a 2019 study, Lifeway Research found that 66% of young adults who "regularly" attended church in high school dropped out for at least one year after graduation.* What about those who rarely or never attended? How many returned at all?
So, how do we retain them? Yes, we invite them to church, but there must be more.
Let's say you get every young adult you know to go to church. What happens once they're there? Do you and others at your church imitate Christ? Do you treat the prodigals and sick the same as those who come every week?
When Lifeway asked young adults about their perception of church members, many listed positive traits, but many listed negative ones as well. For those surveyed,
41% said church members were judgmental
37% said church members were cliquish
34% said church members were hypocritical and
31% said church members were insincere.
And remember, these are young adults who "regularly" went to church in high school. So if this is how young adults feel about church members, what do we do? Let's turn to Scripture for our answer:
"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV
*Lifeway defined "regular attenders" as those who attended a Protestant church twice or more a month for at least one year.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.