The Younger Unchurched and the Churches That Reach Them


The following are summary conclusions from a study of young people not active in church and practices likely to help churches reach emerging generations.

  1. Young adults are trying to connect and will make a lasting connection wherever they can find belonging. Churches that are effective at reaching and developing young adults place a high value on community and are using small groups to build that community.

  2. Young adults want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and are looking to be a part of an organization where they can make a difference through acts of service. More than ever before, young adults are thinking locally and globally about how they can make a lasting impact. Churches that are reaching young adults are successful in providing opportunities for service.

  3. More than looking for a good performance, young adults desire to connect with the experience of worship. They embrace the future and the past at the same time. Young adults want to be challenged by the message, and they want to participate in a worship experience.

  4. Young adults are looking to move behind the trite and into more depth—and we found this among the churched and unchurched young adults.

  5. Many churches are waking up to the need to embrace technology as an effective tool in reaching the unchurched.

  6. Young adults need cross-generational relationships. Churches that are linking young adults with older, mature adults are challenging young adults to move on to maturity through friendship, wisdom, and support.

  7. Young adults are looking for and connecting to churches where they see leaders that are authentic, transparent, and on a learning journey.

  8. Remember that children and youth deal with change in their own ways.

  9. Young people are desperately seeking something real, something authentic—and they don't mind if it is messy. One hundred percent of churches reaching young adults hold authenticity as one of their highest values.

  10. Team is an often desired but infrequently lived value. Churches that lead by teams—and invite young adults to be a part of those teams—engage all kinds of people in more effective mission and ministry.


Reprinted from Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches That Reach Them by Ed Stetzer, Richie Stanley, and Jason Hayes, B&H Publishing Group and LifeWay Research, 2009. Used by permission.

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