The latest news from Faith Communities Today - New research findings from over 4400 American congregations.
Engaging Young Adults - New analysis on an important topic.

The latest in a series of reports based on the Faith Communities Today 2015 survey research was just released.
Engaging Young Adults by Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi Ph.D., Director of the Center for Analytics, Research and Data in the United Church of Christ uses the latest findings from over 4400 congregations to explore this important topic. 
In recent months, several discussions across the Internet have debated if it is necessary to worry about the lack of young adults in congregations or whether it is even helpful to target this population specifically.  But, no matter where you stand in this debate, as Lizardi-Hajbi's report points out,
"Young adults pose a vexing and urgent challenge for congregations. On the one hand, they are particularly crucial for growth. On the other hand, and as many recent studies have shown, today's young adults are less religiously affiliated, and less inclined toward religious belief and practice than ever before."
In the United States today, young adults comprise about 23% of the total population; yet only one in ten American congregations reflects this level of young adult representation.
This just-released 18 page report explores the patterns and trends about young adult ministry, participation and engagement from 2015 study.  A special section of the survey was dedicated to exploring young adult ministries (with "young adult" referring specifically to individuals who are 18 to 34 years old). Researchers created a module of 36 items to learn more about the nature of young adult engagement in congregational life.
This report highlights major findings from that module in order to gain a better understanding of current trends and characteristics of congregations with flourishing young adult ministries.

A few of the key findings about congregations with thriving young adult presence include:
* Prioritizing young adult ministry and creating a specific strategy for engaging young adults are both necessary for a congregation with a thriving young adult presence.
* Greater utilization of electronic technology, the Internet, and social media correlates to having more young adults.
* Specific dedication of people and time around young adult engagement is the key to enhancing this ministry within congregations. 
* Congregations with young adults as leaders of these ministries are more likely to have increased or maintained their young adult presence over the past three years
* Attending worship is the most frequent way that young adults participate in faith communities, but thriving young adult congregations tend to involve many members in activities beyond worship.
* In congregations with a large young adult presence, the programming is more likely to focus on fellowship or other small groups, web/social media engagement, and community service.
* The majority of young adult participants come from families who are already present within the congregation
* Young adults are more likely to participate in larger, more urban congregations in areas with growing populations
* Thriving young adult congregations share many of the same characteristics that all thriving congregations do, including participants' involvement in recruiting new people and engaging in congregational programs, committees, and service projects outside of worship.
* Nearly half of all young adults in American congregations are married with children; however, most young adults in the United States are not married.
* Many congregations believe that their own lack of desire/passion to reach out to young adults, as well as a lack of interest on the part of young adults themselves, most impedes their ministry with this population.
Download and read this new report to explore further insights and uncover findings on what works and suggestive ways to improve your outreach and ministry to young adults within your congregation.
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Other Recent Reports and News

In 2015, we also published a helpful book of research and case studies of
congregations from 10 different faith traditions who were successful in reaching young adults.  How Religious Congregations are Engaging Young Adults in America can be purchased from Amazon in print or digital format. 
Faith Communities Today was cited recently in the Springfield, IL paper, The State Journal-Register, in a story titled, "New survey finds small congregations still thriving, surviving"

Additional Resources On This Topic  

A thoughtful reflection on "Keeping Young Adults Engaged in Your Church" from the Southern Baptist organization Lifeway's young adult specialist, Mark Whitt.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops have an interesting resource which proposes ideas for programming specifically targeted toward young adults.   
Also check out the website Busted Halo, which is an outreach of Paulist Fathers.  Many of its stories and information addresses audiences in their late teens, twenties, and thirties searching for spiritual answers. 
The Congregational Resource Guide has an interesting collection of suggested resources for thinking about youth ministry.   
An older resource, although offering a rich expansive look at the spirituality of young adults, can be found in a significant 2008 project entitled The Changing Spirituality of Emerging Adults.   The series of essays, commentary and ethnographic case studies are quite informative.   
The United Methodist Church offers some good tips for engaging young adults throughout the summer months in this helpful resource.
The Unitarian Universalist Association created a comprehensive PDF guide to ministry with young adults.  Writings in this guide come from many authors and cover a wide array of topics.  
The website Resourcing Christianity offers five insightful articles from well-known scholars on the faith of young persons
Need great ideas now?  The Pinterest section on Young Adult Ministry is often a great place to look. 

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