I was recently invited to attend a quarterly breakfast for the Orange County Chapter of CBMC (Christian Businessman’s Connection).
Marc Ottestad, the coordinator of the group, had connected with me via LinkedIn, thinking that our similar interests and passion for coaching, mentoring and seeing men make an impact for Jesus in their jobs might make for some natural opportunities to collaborate.
When I showed up at the breakfast, I noticed that most of the men were my age or even older. I wasn’t sure what to expect or how this breakfast might directly help me.
At one point, we were asked to shuffle tables to meet some new people and discuss what we heard from the speaker.
I found another table and ended up sitting next to the only guy in the room who was younger than 30.
I introduced myself to Alec and learned that he had recently graduated from Biola and was working at expanding a website business.
When Alec asked what I do, I shared that I help Young Professionals thrive spiritually and live with purpose.
I explained that my wife and I had spent many years ministering to college students but we made a shift in our ministry focus a few years ago because we had seen a void in Christian circles in serving the needs of Young adults, who are often struggling to find the kind of community and support that they need when they are undergoing the biggest changes and most stressful transitions of their life.
Alec’s response was both sad and affirming at the same time. He said, “you pretty much just summed up my current life situation.”
It’s sad that there seems to be so few resources and support for young professionals like Alec. I’ve spent many hours thinking through this issue, trying to determine why this is the case.
My conclusions are not researched…they are just opinions, yet it makes sense to me.
If you think about it, most churches are built around a family model. Nearly every church serves the needs of families – from kids programs to youth events as well as support for parents and marriages.
This is an extremely good thing because, if you haven’t noticed, the traditional family unit, with biblical family values is under attack in our culture. The church may be the last bastion of hope to salvage a biblical understanding of the family unit.
But that same model works against Young Professionals, who are in a season where they have often left their family of origin and are yet to start a family of their own. They are in an in-between season of life – living on their own, learning to live as an adult with real-life responsibilities.
In this in-between phase, which is lasting longer for current 20-Somethings than it has for previous generations, they are looking for others like them with whom they can experience the struggles and transitions of becoming an adult.
Jen and I regularly connect with Young Adults who share their frustrations with attending churches where they struggle to find other Young Adults.
I have heard a number of church leaders tell me that a specific ministry meeting the needs of Young Adults is unnecessary. Citing the benefits of inter-generational worship and community, they contend that Young Adults should simply get involved in the life of the church,.
I believe this view is short-sighted. Research demonstrates that Young Professionals DO want mentors and they DO want to be involved in the life of the church. So in one sense, the idea of inter-generational worship and involvement makes sense. But a weekly men’s group cannot fill the void that’s lacking for many Young Adults – the need for a family-like experience with peers while they are in the season of single-ness.
We don’t have all the answers and we’re still learning best practices as we seek to minister to this audience. But we are seeking to fill the gap in various ways.
After meeting Alec for lunch, I was able to connect him to a Leadership Development group that I recently launched. One of the guys in the group is also a Biola grad with whom Alec was acquainted.
We’re also exploring the benefits of coaching. It may not meet all of Alec’s needs, but our hope is that it will provide a few missing elements that will help Alec, and others like him, to thrive spiritually and live with purpose during this season of life!