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Welcoming young adults back to church Print
Editorial
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, May. 23, 2019 -- 12:00 AM

Young adults today are less likely than older generations to join a church, but there are signs that more young adults are coming back to churches.

A report from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research examined church membership of young adults ages 18 to 34. While some findings were discouraging, researchers also found that some churches have increased young adult participation. The report drew conclusions that any church can use to draw young members, according to a post on boxcast.com (https://www.boxcast. com/blog/what-can-your-church-do-to-attract-young-adults)

Suggestions for churches

Three of the conclusions of the report are:

• Strategy is important. Over a third of the congregations surveyed did not have a specific strategy for young adult ministries; conversely, nine of 10 congregations with thriving young adult ministries have some intentional strategy for engaging young adults. The report concluded that “strategy (a plan) and prioritization (taking steps to act on that plan) are both necessary to create thriving young adult ministries.”

• Family matters. Seventy percent of active young adults within any given congregation come from families within that congregation. Though some children stray from the church as they become adults, these individuals will be easier to target and recruit than people with no ties to your church. As such, keeping them engaged should be a priority.

• Participation beyond worship helps. Nearly 70 percent of young adults participate by attending worship and about half participate in programs/activities other than worship. Ministries with thriving young adult communities tend to be those in which its members are more involved in activities beyond worship.

The most common young adult programs/activities in churches with thriving young adult ministries include fellowship groups, engaging websites, active social media profiles, Scripture study groups, community service, theology or contemporary issue study groups, and recreational or sports activities.

Tips for parents

To help parents deal with children drifting away from the Church, Catholic author Brandon Vogt authored a 16-part video course and book that pulls together the best tips, tools, and strategies called RETURN: How to Draw Your Child Back to the Church (https://brandonvogt.com/ 7-steps-to-bring-your-child-home-to-the-faith/).

Vogt offers these seven steps:

• Pray, fast, and sacrifice. Commit yourself to pray each day. Consider what St. Monica’s prayers did for St. Augustine!

• Equip yourself. Know your faith by studying the Bible and the Catechism. Be able to explain and defend the faith.

• Plant the seeds. Give children a booklet, DVD, or CD on the faith.

• Start the conversation. Open a dialogue about God and the Church. Be sure to listen.

• Move the dialogue forward. Speak with joy and positivity.

• Invite and connect. Invite your child to a parish event, retreat, or small group discussion, or invite him to get involved in campus ministry.

• Close the loop. Talk with your pastor and determine the right steps to close the loop.

Vogt advises parents to make sure their child knows they love him, and, of course, that God loves him, too.

I would encourage parishes and parents to welcome back these young adults with open arms and hearts and a positive attitude.

 
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