Mathea Krogstad is a Doctoral student in the Industrial-Organizational Psychology program and a millennial herself. The investigation she is leading as part of the Pivot NW team surround the question of what Faith Practices and Growth exist for, and are important to, 20-somethings in the PNW church.
So often when we in the church talk about young adults, the focus is on how to get them in the door. This is an important conversation to have; young adults have many choices vying for their time and commitment, and church participation is increasingly optional. However, if we want to help young adults grow in their faith, we cannot stop here. Once we get them in the door, what happens next? As a young adult myself, there have been few experiences more disillusioning for me than churches that draw me in, only to ignore me once I’m there. Conversely, churches that have cared about my growth and development have inspired me to not only attend regularly, but to engage with my faith in a real, challenging way. I am not alone in this; above all, young adults want to avoid stagnation. Getting us in the door is only the first part of the story.
After young adults have connected with a church, we are lead to the next important conversation: how can churches engage their young adults in a meaningful way? Once young adults are involved in a church, what can they—and their church—do to promote their faith growth? Answers to these questions might be found in how churches foster community, respond to change, and provide young adults with both challenge and support, and how young adults live out their faith and navigate periods of transition and doubt. To bring the conversation home to your church, ask yourself and others: is our church providing ministries, service opportunities, and leadership roles for young adults? How can we do more of this? And if you, like me, are a young adult, think about how you experience your faith as both a relationship with God and an engagement with the world around you. What personal spiritual practices, like prayer or scripture reading, can you do to grow in your faith? How can you live out your faith in the communities and relationships around you? Walking through the doors is young adults’ first step to growing in faith with a church community—but after is when the real growth can happen.