The Challenges of Ministering to Young Adults

Not long ago, I was on a Zoom call with Edgar (not his real name), a Young adult I’ve had interactions with for the last couple of years.

Edgar was frustrated as things weren’t going the way he had planned. Already in his late 20’s, Edgar was still trying to figure out what his ultimate career would be. One option he was contemplating was grad school, the idea being that it would potentially set him up for a specific job/career he was interested in. But he wasn’t sure he wanted to spend more money on education given how much he had spent on his undergraduate degree and how little he had to show for it.

Many Young Adults are frustrated and disillusioned. Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash

Edgar was disillusioned. He told me that he felt like he had been sold a bill of goods. Education was supposed to be the avenue to success and happiness and yet, with mounting school loans and no solid, long-term career prospects, Edgar realized that his degree was not the golden ticket he had been promised.

Edgar is not alone. Today’s Young Adults are disillusioned about a lot of things. They are disillusioned about the economy and the “American Dream”. Especially here in California, many of the Young Adults we encounter have no expectation of ever being able to own a home.

They’re disillusioned with the world. They see inequity and injustice and they struggle to make sense of it all.

And many Young Adults are disillusioned with the Church, failing to see its relevance to modern culture.

Our culture is drifting further from its historic Christian roots and each new generation is experiencing less and less influence from traditional Christian teachings and morals.

Young Adults today have grown up in a post-Christian culture, meaning they know very little about who Jesus is or what Christianity is about. Spiritually, they are a blank slate.

Young Adults are increasingly irreligious in their views. Photo by Mitchel Lensink on Unsplash

About 1/3 of Young adults identify as atheist, agnostic or none. They’re not necessarily hostile to Christianity or religion, but they simply have no religious beliefs – it’s simply not important to them.

About 2/3 of Young adults identify as Christian but only 4% have a Christian ethic. Simply put, they consider themselves Christians but their lives don’t necessarily follow traditional Christian moral values.

This is not surprising since only about 6 out of every 10 Young adults believe the Bible is true.

Our culture has been heavily impacted and influenced by postmodernism, which is a philosophy that emphasizes a person’s personal experience as the supreme factor in determining truth. The end result is people who may identify with the Christian faith in a general sense but when it comes to moral values, their own experiences and preferences take priority over any biblical standards, which may be regarded as archaic and outdated.

How do we minister to people who are disillusioned and feeling hopeless when faced with the realities of life?

One of our strategies and priorities is to help Young Adults see that God is ultimately our only source of hope and His Word provides guidelines for successfully navigating life.

One of the ways we’re accomplishing this is by providing premarital mentoring to young Adult couples who are preparing for marriage. 

With so much brokenness in families and marriage today, we’ve found Young Adults are eager to hear how biblical principles can help them change the trajectory of their relationships and family history by providing guidance and direction for fulfilling and life-long marriages.

Dave led a group of Young adults through a 9 month curriculum on Biblical Stewardship and Money Management

Another avenue for helping Young Adults see the value of God’s Word in their daily lives is by helping them adopt biblical principles for stewardship and money management. Unfortunately, our consumer and debt-oriented culture doesn’t teach Young adults how to handle money responsibly and many Young adults cite finances as a major source of stress and anxiety in their lives. 

Young adults are looking for alternative solutions to experience financial security and experience prosperity. Many are surprised yet excited to learn that the Bible provides incredibly sound advice and wisdom on how to handle money and honor God through our finances and by applying biblical principles to our financial situations, we can experience financial peace.

Ministering to a generation that has become further removed from any biblical foundation is certainly challenging. But the Lord continues to move, directing us to Young Adults who are eager to know God and follow Him.

Thank you for your partnership that allows us to help Young adults begin to experience real spiritual life as they learn to apply God’s word to their lives.

Biblical Investing Advice

Ecclesiastes 11

2Divide your gifts among many, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead. (Ecclesiastes 11:2, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

The Bible has a lot to say about money and wealth. Despite what many people in our culture think today, the Bible doesn’t condemn wealth or making money. Actually, Jesus himself encourages the wise steward  to multiply the resources entrusted to him/her by God and to seek to make a profit. I’ve written a number of blog posts on the subject of whether wealth is immoral. You can read my previous posts here, here and here.  Additionally, I wrote about God’s stance towards the rich here.

Though the Bible encourages people to make a profit and to multiply their financial resources, it doesn’t give a lot of guidance on how exactly we’re supposed to do that. When it comes to investing, the Bible has little to say that will yield any specific steps or strategies to guide us.

There is one verse however, that gives some financial wisdom on the topic of investing, and it’s found in Ecclesiastes 11:2.

In this verse, Solomon tells us to divide our “gifts” among many in order to hedge against risk.

What’s he talking about?

I like the way the NIV states this verse. It says it this way:

2Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. (Ecclesiastes 11:2, NIV)

In this verse, Solomon is encouraging the reader to divide his investments into 7 or 8 different portions. Essentially, he’s encouraging the reader to diversify their assets in order to hedge against a potential disaster.

I found a blog post by Alice A. Anacioco to be especially helpful. She explains this passage this way:

You may be surprised to read King Solomon offering financial counsel as he nears the end of Ecclesiastes. But accordingly, Solomon was deeply involved in international trades with merchants. And just like today, one of the main trade commodities was grain.

The merchants of Solomon’s day would load their grains on ships and send them off. But instead of loading all of their grains in just one ship, he tells his merchants to put them in several ships and send them out in a diversified way so that if one of the ships should sink, he would not lose everything.

The main advice the Bible gives when it comes to investing is to diversify your investments. The idea is to spread your money out among different types of assets so that if one type of asset is negatively impacted by an economic event, the other assets may be unaffected and as a result, the entire portfolio will not be completely devastated.

Be careful though. Many people assume they are following this advice because they have placed their investment money into mutual funds. Many financial advisors will advise their clients to diversify their stock portfolio among many different stocks so that if one company performs badly, the positive performances of the other stocks may shield the portfolio from being completely torpedoed.

Mutual funds provide some level of inherent diversity because a mutual fund is already a portfolio of many stocks. Hence, if one company within the fund goes down, other companies may go up and thus the value of the fund may go up as well despite the poor performance of one or a few companies.

But being invested in a number of stocks or even mutual funds does not mean you are diversified. To truly be diversified and hedged against disastrous economic events, one needs to have their funds invested in different asset classes altogether.

Think about it. Stocks and mutual funds are part of the same asset class. When the market crashed in 2000 due to the dotcom bubble bursting, many people who had all their money in the stock market had their entire portfolio decimated. Again, in 2008 when the market crashed as a result of the real estate bubble bursting, many who were “diversified” because they owned many different stocks or mutual funds took major hits to their bottom line.

I have heard and seen too many stories of people who had their entire nest egg cut in half or worse by one of these two market events. And for those who were in retirement when it happened, the results have been disastrous. There simply is no time to rebound from these market crashes when you’re already taking disbursements during retirement.

Solomon’s advice is basically “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. So if you really want to diversify, don’t have all your money in stocks and mutual funds. Invest in other assets as well (such as real estate, precious metals, commodities, etc.) That way, if the stock market crashes, as it inevitably will do, only a portion of your entire portfolio will be affected. And who knows, even while the market is crashing, perhaps the other assets will be unaffected or even increase. You may find that you are gaining overall instead of losing it all.

Reflection

What is or has been your investing strategy?

What steps have you taken or are you taking to diversify your financial portfolio?

Besides stocks and mutual funds, what are some other asset classes you could invest in to begin to create a truly diversified portfolio?

 

Photo by Precondo CA on Unsplash