church army

A report by the Church Army of the Anglican Church reports on a survey of the situations where (and, by implication, the reasons why) the Christian Church is alive and well amongst young adults (aged 25-34).  There are pointers here for other churches, such as the Methodist Church.

Survey Findings

  1. Attracting New Young Adult Worshippers: Where churches are managing to reach young adults with no previous church experience - and from a broad socio-economic background - they will more often see these young adults meeting around a dining table rather than in a church building, because the getting together for a meal is very important in creating community.

  2. Retaining Young People into Adulthood: Some larger churches with young adult congregations, gathering for a Sunday service alongside midweek groups, are effectively reaching out to middle class, well-educated young adults who previously attended church as children.
fresh expressions

Attracting New Young Adult Worshippers

These churches exhibit very different traits and practices from the ones which retain young people into adulthood. For the 'attracting churches', eating together is the new 'Sunday service'.

For these small communities, access to communal spaces, such as cafés, large vicarages/ manses and community houses, can make a crucial difference to their growth and sustainability.

Young adults attending such types of church may struggle to make the leap to more traditional forms of church/worship as they get older. This suggests that the determining factor here is not their age or life stage, and that these new forms of church will continue to grow and develop.

The recognition of these small sacramental communities as 'church' is vital, both for the sustainability of these fledgling churches and for the building up of the wider church.

Five Types of Church where Young Adults Worship

The survey identified five distinct types of church attractive to worshipping young adults:

  1. Church-planting hubs
  2. Youth church grown up (see above)
  3. Deconstructed church 
  4. Church on the margins
  5. Context-shaped church

According to the researcher, Beth Keith, ‘They all have different personalities, are of different sizes, connect with different kinds of young adult and practise faith differently.’

The full 36-page, report is available on paper or on-line, at a fee, from Fresh Expressions.

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[This article is derived from the summary report published by Churches Together.]

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