I mentioned last week that Chris and I would be attending the Threads Connect Conference in Orlando – which we did.  We had a great time.  And we met some great people.  In fact, the conference really has me thinking over some things about the way we “do church” today, and what “church” may look like 20 or 30 years from now.

The breakout sessions at the conference covered three main themes – community, responsibility, and depth.  I can’t possibly summarize everything in a brief post here, but I do want to mention a few things that really spoke to me.

Community

This conference focused on trends among young adults today, ages 18 to 34 years old.  We desire to “do life together,” as Jason Hayes said.  Community is not only geographic, but relational.  Community needs to encourage honesty, authenticity, and the freedom to ask questions.

We must minimize church jargon.  Many young adults today have never been introduced to the church.  We should provide an atmosphere where it is okay to ask questions.

Community includes letting people grow in their walk with the Lord, or discipleship.

Mike Harder talked about four aspects of a healthy Christian community: 1) fellowship, friendship, and relationship; 2) Bible study; 3) prayer; and 4) food.

Mike also talked about how Jesus modeled these aspects of community with His disciples.  First, He taught them spiritual Truth, and then they saw how He applied that Truth.  Second, He gave them opportunities to minister and to serve.

We are a generation that wants close relationships in an increasingly disconnected world.  We who are in the church must make sure that the opportunities to form those relationships exist there.

Responsibility

We are a generation that wants to know that our lives are making an impact on the world.

Social action is increasingly important to young adults, as we have increased awareness to the needs around the world.

We must teach young adults that Jesus ministered to both spiritual and physical needs, and we must do both as well.

Participating in missions together often builds bridges among generations, and continues to foster that sense of community through shared experiences.

Depth

Michael Kelley defined “depth” as not equal to the level of information, but equal to the encounter of the information.

There is an emphasis on story rather than on fact, mystery rather than logic, and change rather than stability.

We must move from an information model to an exploration model of teaching a lesson.  We want to explore the text together rather than be lectured.

We must move from admiration to identification.  We must acknowledge that we all struggle in the same ways.  Life is not a sitcom that is wrapped up neatly in 30 minutes.

We who are churched need to be equipped to stand for Truth in a world that is not doing that.  Those who are unchurched will not make uninformed decisions to follow Christ.  So, we must teach the whole counsel of Scripture.

Young adults are interested in theology, apologetics, worldviews, other religions, and other difficult topics.

The conference speakers encouraged us to teach the entire Bible.  Foster discussion.  Address tough topics.  Memorize scripture.  Give the responsibility for spiritual growth to both leaders and learners.  We must provide strong exegetical Bible teaching.  We must sing theologically sound music.  Substance is more important than form.

Chris and I were both challenged about the way that we approach our young adult ministry at Yellow Creek.  We were challenged to be creative in the ways we work to build community.  We know to continue teaching the Bible in strong and relevant ways.

I have been thinking about the implications of these and other trends that were discussed last week, and the impact that young adults will have on the greater evangelical world as they mature and eventually become leaders in their churches.  There’s a lot here to think through and process.

Ed Stetzer has an interesting new book coming out in October – Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and Churches that Reach Them.  Ed also spoke at the conference about some of his findings, and I think that this book will be a must-read for pastors who are serious about reaching the next generation.  I am looking forward to reading it myself.

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