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(RNS) — There’s a running joke in church that the term “young adult” is kind of like the phrase “middle class”: it conveniently includes whoever is using it at the time.
The joke may have been on my wife, the Rev. Amy Piatt, and me when we showed up to the church we serve last summer to find ourselves charged a few months later with starting a “New Thing” to meet the needs of young adults and their families.
Years - Age - Amy - Members - Church
At 45 and 47 years of age, respectively, Amy and I are indeed among the youngest members of the church: The previous young adult ministry had finally disbanded when all of its constituents had aged out.
This is just one example of how out of step the church as a whole has become with the rest of the country. The research firm Barna Group reports that more Americans still identify as “Christian” than other religious identities, but less than a third of us who identify that way actually attend any sort of church community on a regular basis. And the average age of those who do is, well, old.
People - Notion - Church - Quaint - Concept
For younger people, the very notion of “church” is an increasingly foreign, almost quaint, concept. So-called “nones” — people claiming no religious affiliation — constitute a larger cross-section (23.1%) of the population than either evangelicals (22.5%) or Catholics (23%), according to the General Social Survey by the non-partisan and objective research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. Among those nones, the fastest growing demographic is younger adults.
What the church has in common with the culture, however, is that people still long for deeper connection in their lives. This is evident in the apps intent on bringing people together: Cliq, MeetUp, Friender, VizEat, Bumble and even Meet My Dog (like Tinder for dog owners), to mention...
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