I read an article entitled ‘What’s up with twentysomethings?’ in the Saturday Review of The Times. It was a very interesting take on those in their twenties in the UK, here were a couple of take aways I had:
- Only 1 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds has never accessed the internet.
- In short, young people are both more connected and more alone than ever.
- Mel Smith from Youth Support Service: “It’s a very difficult time, the very early twenties, because of the way that a lot of the support is set up, as they reach age milestones, they move from youth to adult services; they may find themselves moved to a different service just because they’ve had a birthday.”
The lengthening of adolescent, the increasing reliance on the family are presenting big challenges in the 21st century, the economic downturn has worsened this situation. Whilst Big Society will I’m sure provide opportunities for some young adults to influence and change their society, for many the power still rests with a previous generation.
Transition within youth work and ministry is imperative – the places which are crucial are the transitions into and out of secondary school. We spend an awful lot of time in Tonbridge engaging with those about to come into tbcYouth (our youth ministry), for example:
- We take some of the youth team on the Children’s Weekend Away in April
- Following that we place youth leaders, where possible, in all the children’s activities that have year 6 children.
- At May half-term we then transition all the year 6 children into our youth ministry.
- We offer It’s Your Move lessons based on the Scripture Union It’s Your Move book to all the local primary schools.
- We support our local secondary school in the year 6 transition days.
For those leaving tbcYouth we’ve been much less imaginative, so far:
- A special leaving meal for all those in year 13
- A memory time at their last summer camp reflecting on the highs and funny moments of the last seven years
- Praying our students off at the start of an academic year and presenting them with a student help bag which includes pens, notebooks, chocolate, baked beans, Krish Kandiah’s Fresh book and more.
- Linking all our students to an adult mentor who is in regular contact with them.
We need to continue to develop this transition:
- How can we ensure every young adult leaving our youth ministry feels they are a part of the church – be that in Tonbridge or around the world as they go to university or travel as part of a gap-year.
- How do we support better those who are increasingly choosing to do distance-learning or go straight into employment or an apprenticeship?
- Do we create a new group for those in their 20s (the current one is full of those in their late 20s and early 30s, many of whom have young families which is off-putting to those in their young 20s) or does that perpetuate separatism across the church when young adults are often looking for spiritual parents along with peer friends.
What are your experiences or thoughts about how we transition smoothly young adults in to church and how the church can engage with young adults?