Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Twenty somethings: the churches unreached generation?

Is it just me, or is the church in New Zealand doing a bad job at reaching out to, and supporting those in the "twenty-something" age group? It's a conviction has been growing in me for some time. 
The church is doing an okay job of reaching theses in their teenage years. It’s becoming had to find a church without an employed youth pastor, let alone one without a youth group these days, and there are a large number of events, publications and programs aimed at teenagers today. And we seem to be doing an okay job of reaching those middle aged and older. The many parenting and marriage based ministries around is one example of this.

 Now I don’t want to dis all these ministries, many of which do a fantastic job. Be we seem to forget that people don’t go from being an eighteen year old school kid to a 30 year old mother or father with a middle class job over night. And there are a few stars in this ministry vacuum. Marriage preparation causes and ministry to university students such as TSCF do existed and do an awesome job. However, much of this work goes unnoticed and underfunded by the church at large. TSCF for example have only around 2000 people on there database of supporters. Churches as a whole do not see 18 to 30 year olds as groups to minister to. Yet as I beginning to learn, people in this age group face many challenges.

Most of these challenges could be whole blog posts in themselves, so I simply list few. We are moving from education to full time employment in a time when employers want work experience. We often move away from our home town to somewhere where we know nobody. Most of us ether get married or struggle with being simple. And most of us are still trying to work out who we are and what it means to follow Jesus.

One of the reasons why I think that I loved my time in TSCF was that it was a chance to be around people at the same stage of life as me. I knew I was not a “youth” any more, and yet I didn’t and still don’t feel like I’m an “audit” yet either. This felling of being out of place dose not came out so much at All Saints as there are a few twenty some tings there, but definitely did while I was at the New Wine Summer camp over the weekend. I couldn’t help feeling a little out of place in the adult zone- that I was still too young to belong there, yet I felt too old in Firewire- the youth zone- last year. Most of the twenty something’s at the camp were not in a zone, but helping to run one of the younger zones because, as one of them said to me, they don’t know where they would go if they didn’t. And while it is awesome that they are serving God, it is a shame that they don’t have anywhere where they feel like they belong. In past years there has been an attempt to provide this with “The Location.” However, this was not really a “zone’ as such, but just a space to hang out in late at night.
And I don’t think this is just a New Wine issue but a church issue. Try goggling phrases such as “twenty something’s ministry” in New Zealand. It doesn’t get many hits.

So what should we do about this? I don’t have the answer. But I do think we need to do something. I would also like to know if other people feel the same way, or is it just me. So if you could post your thoughts on the issue, and any ideas, that would be great. Do we need something like a “twenty something ministries” or a “twenties something’s camp”? Or is the answer that it needs to come from local Churches rather than a whole new interdenominational ministry.

I leave with this thought: Jesus did not begin his ministry till he was about thirty. Why?

1 comment:

yomcat said...

Well, considering that this year is gonna suck, I'm going to have to admit that you're correct.
TSCF was great, church isn't. I'm not going to church camps because I'm not denominational enough to want to, and I'm easily bored by speakers (Parachute morning sessions - *yawn*)

On our pre-marriage course, we were the youngest couple by a few years (not too surprising) and it's way too specific and not overly Godly. It's more a relationship seminar kinda thing.

Twenties something ministry is an interesting idea, but I don't think it will work. There are students, new workers, established workers, married, newly married, single people. The list just goes on and on. Because there is almost no overlap between these groups, there isn't much aimed at us. (the just left Uni ones), and more of it is aimed towards the late twenties. Thinking about when All Saints did twenty somethings stuff, it was called twenty somethings so the thirty+ people could still go. It wasn't really aimed at that annoying group of people who are just getting sorted in life.

Yeah. That's all. I need to go to work now.