In my last post, I wrote about the different demographics you can choose from when you start your ministry to young adults. Now that you’ve determined your demographic, you can start building your ministry. The number one question you have to answer is, “Where do I start?” The temptation we face when trying to answer this question is, we look at what other churches are doing, and then we try to mimic their ministry. We add in all the elements of the ministry we’re using as our example, and then when no one is showing up, we wonder to ourselves, “What did I do wrong?” Now hear me, looking at what others are doing isn’t bad, however, what makes it bad is when we try to make our ministries fit their context. We forget the ministries we use as our examples have been established for years. What we see is the fruit of their labor, not the years of toil, labor, and faithfulness to get to where they are.
Which brings us back to our main question, “Where do we start?” We start with what we have. Now I know that doesn’t sound as glamorous, but it’s the truth. If your church was anything like mine, you probably have a Sunday school class dedicated to young adults, which is usually located in the most obscure part of your church. If this is true, start with this group. You already have a designated gathering place and volunteers who work with this group, so all you have to do is give this group the attention it needs, and here’s how:
- Build relationships: Start building relationships with the volunteers and students who are already participating. This group will become your core. Get to know them, better yet, minister to them. Ministry is about relationships, and you’re going to have a hard time establishing a young adult ministry if you have no relationships with the people you are wanting to minister to.
- Share your vision: Take the time to share with everybody the vision you have for the ministry. Share with them how they have an amazing opportunity to be used by God to establish a new ministry at their church. At the same time, make sure you apologize on behalf of your church for dropping the ball when it comes to ministering to them. People aren’t stupid and they know when they’re not being cared for, so use this time to reconnect them back to the ministry. It’ll go along ways, I promise.
- If necessary, bring in new volunteers: You may already have volunteers who are leading, but sometimes you may need to bring new ones in to kick start the new ministry. Here are some reasons why you may need to bring in new volunteers: your current volunteers are leading out obligation, instead of passion for the ministry; your current volunteers are already experiencing burnout; or your current volunteers are not a good match for your group. If you see any of these symptoms in your current volunteers, it may be time for them to take a rest from the ministry.
- Have fellowships: Not only do you need to be building relationships with the people you minister too, but they need to be building relationships with each other as well. The more your young adults are spending time with each other outside of church, the better. Like youth, young adults crave social interaction, and having outside fellowships provide opportunities for them to have that. Have a monthly luncheon or a weekly movie night. You don’t have to be at every fellowship, but you do need to cultivate a culture where young adults want to be around each other. Don’t be afraid to go outside the fellowship box, they are adults, and like one of my college students told me, you can’t go wrong when food is involved.
In the end, ministry is a lot like gardening. You may have some plants that are doing really well, but then you have others that look like they’re dying. The truth is, these plants aren’t dying, they’re conserving resources because they have been neglected for so long. When you start giving the same care you give to the living plants, to the the dying plants, the dying plants will begin to bloom again. Our natural reaction is to uproot the dying plants before we give them a chance. Before you start from scratch, start with what you have, because the odds are, your dying plant just needs a little water.