The lived experience of the modern Young Adult
A study from Barna offers three key insights on Young Adults from around the world.
We all know COVID was tough on everyone. We all know being a Young Adult comes with its own challenges like affording a house anywhere and finding a job that isn’t considered part of the gig economy.
Just prior to the pandemic Barna released the details of The Connected Generation–a study of 18-35 year olds from 25 different countries–and in this post they offer three key insights into the data:
Loneliness, isolation and anxiety plagued Young Adults even before the pandemic.
One in four young people admitted then to feelings of isolation. 40% of young people admit to anxiety over major decisions or their future.
Despite recognising a leadership crisis, Young Adults aren’t always ready to step up.
82% of young people somewhat or strongly agreed that there are not enough good leaders now. Very few of them (<10%) saw themselves as leaders in government, social causes or in their churches.
Young Adults listed “Friends” and “Opportunities to fight injustice” as missing from church.
Of the respondents 54% of young people attended church at least once a month, and highlighted a lack of their friends, opportunities to address injustice in their community, conversation and training around relationships, vocational training, and more as their key concerns of what isn’t happening at their church. Almost every item listed scored similar importance!
That’s a lot to process, even in just those three topics.
What it highlights for me is how important intentional Young Adult communities are within our movement. Places where young people post-high school can gather and be in community together, encourage each other in their faith, and learn together how they can impact their world for God’s glory…and then get out there together and do it.
Supporting Uni chaplaincy is a part of this, as they have daily opportunity for interactions with this key group. That isn’t all, however (what about all the Young Adults that go to TAFE or get ‘normal’ jobs?). We need to have vibrant, vital communities of faith where Young Adults can participate and grow as an integral part of the family of God.
Let us continue to wrestle with this and put our money where our mouths are when it comes to supporting ministry with this intelligent, interconnected, caring, anxious, dynamic generation. Let’s find ways to support intentional ministry with Young Adults, releasing money to birth faith communities and support ministry with people aged 18-35 (not unsurprisingly they are one of the groups most absent from the UCA based on the most recent NCLS data).
It’s time to change the conversation. Flip the tables. Invest in young people not so they will turn up and run our tech or join our committees because we are too tired; rather, build places where they can connect with each other and intergenerationally and feel loved, prioritised, mentored into leadership roles, and most importantly grown as disciples of Jesus Christ.
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Molk is the Young Adult Ministry Lead and Senior Field Officer (North) within the PULSE team.