By Gennie Callard
There are many ways for a parish to view young adult ministry. In this article I am going to talk about viewing this ministry as outreach and put forth some ideas to help your parish and your community meet the needs of this community.
Ministry with college students and young adults really needs to be seen as primarily an outreach activity as opposed to a church recruitment activity. We can't see this ministry as a way to fill our pews on Sunday morning, nor these people as future pledges. These are seeds that we plant and may never see into fruition. But they are people that we need to serve here and now - ministering both with and for.
So why do we do this ministry? We're doing it to fill a need and serve God's kingdom.
And what can we do? The first thing is to look at your community and assess the immediate needs - are young adults in your community getting enough to eat, getting a safe place to sleep, getting a place to do their laundry and take a shower? We must try not to put ourselves in their place and think "this is what I did when I was their age," because each person is different and has different needs along with different resources.
Here are some things that have been tried (and some that haven't). What can your parish do to reach out to people between the ages of 18 and 30 to make sure they are cared for?
I wrote some about including young adults at parish and family gatherings in a previous e-mail (click here to view).
If you don't have a washing machine at home, laundry can be incredibly expensive.
Have someone who's good with money (a CPA, money manager, etc.) available to meet with people and help them understand the world of finances - taxes, loans, credit cards
Nurses and Medical Help
Do you have a parish nurse? Set up times when he or she can be available to answer medical questions that young adults have.
We have a process for discernment set up for people interested in ordained ministry, but what about all other ministries and job? If you have people who are good active listeners, perhaps you can set up a discernment committee for young adults, to help them figure out their next step in life. Parker Palmer's A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life is a great resource for this (and an amazing book!)
What other skills do people in your parish have? And how can they help the next generation of adults?