One of the biggest challenges in ministering to 20s & 30s is that there are so many different stages of life someone can be in and fit between the ages of 20-39. There are college students, singles, young marrieds, marrieds with young children and marrieds with teens. There is a huge difference between a person who is just starting into the ministry in their early 20s and someone about to move on from the ministry in their late 30s. It is important that we understand that difference and address it.
We tend to relate more with the people who are in the same stage we are. When the ministry started, Missy and I didn’t have any kids. It was easier to relate with those who came who were young marrieds without kids. Then we had a child of our own and all of a sudden, the things that interested us and the conversations we needed to have were with other people who had children. That is just how it works. The problem is, it is easy to think everyone else feels just as close to those with small kids as you do, when the truth is…singles in their early 20s won’t feel at all connected with that.
A few months ago we had a discussion within our ministry about where we are at and what our next steps are. We had a few people who don’t have children mention that they don’t naturally feel like the group is for them. They feel like the group caters mostly to young families. When they come, they don’t feel like it is their group. Now, that is some honest feedback! I started reflecting on my own time in my early 20s and my own discomfort with the married with kids crowd.
We are just now starting to address this so maybe in a future post I will have more to say about what works to help resolve this. Right now, we are more in the planning and development stages of our next steps for the ministry. I will let you know how it goes. For now, I just wanted to put the idea out there that if you have a diverse young adult ministry, make sure you have your finger on the pulse of those who are in a different stage than those in leadership are in and that you get honest feedback on whether or not they really feel like they belong.
Last, we have to be careful because the “solutions” themselves can lead to more problems. If we further subdivide our ministry into kids/no kids we run the risk of isolating our young people even further and remove them from some potentially healthy relationships with those who have more experience in life than they do. Like with most things, we have to find balance in order for it to be a win/win for everyone involved.