Right now there is possibly a larger gap than ever before between post-university/college and the average Sunday morning church goer. Some call this group of people “young professionals” or “careers” but ultimately they are the ones on the older end of millennials demographics.
After travelling the country full-time speaking for the past 5+ years in many churches, as well as currently running a city-wide young professional ministry first hand, here are a few insights on why I feel there’s such a gap in the Young Professional stage of the church…
They are Not “Young Adults”
Someone who is 28 is not in the same stage of life as someone who is 18. However, young professionals or “careers” are pooled into this young adult bracket so the church can say they have something for the 28-year old who checks out their website. I was a young adult pastor for 5 years and I am guilty of bunching young professionals under this young adult label – The problem is when you attend these young adult ministries or “college and career”, most of them are solely focused on the university and college-age crowd. Young professionals are now in another stage of life and they are looking to connect with people who are in the same stage as they are. They may not be there because they are simply not a young adult anymore.
For the first time since pre-school, they are not surrounded by people in their stage of life. Preschool, Children’s Ministry, Jr High, Sr. High, Young adults annnnnd then what? Personally, I was convinced everyone died at 25 when I was no longer a young adult. They are starving for a community – And they probably lost a few good friends in their inner circles along the way as stats show 65-70% of Christians “walk away” from Jesus during their university/college days. That means, if they are the one-third who made it through, they might now be disconnected to the person who was sitting on the left and right of them over all these years. You’ll be surprised how lonely it can be feeling like everyone is 10 years younger or 10 years older. If they can’t connect to a community of young professionals, they may slowly stop attending church because it’s not meeting their needs.
Connecting to the feeling of being lonely, young professionals are looking. I know that sounds cliche but it’s reality. Now when we talk about marriage, the qualities and characteristics of a future spouse may now look different than looking for someone who is just a Christian and hot – We’ve all been there – What we’re looking for changes when we get older – Now here’s the challenge…That future spouse may not be in the same church. The average church attendance in the country is about 75 people on a Sunday. Now factor in losing two-thirds of the young adults and now there are probably three or four people who are young professionals in their church to marry….and let’s be honest, there’s a reason why you don’t want to date them. They are looking for something more as they are now done school so some of these young professionals are church hopping to potentially meet someone which is why they weren’t at your church last Sunday.
I remember reading an article explaining how Netflix and streaming TV shows online are actually distancing families. Why? Because in the past if you wanted to watch a show live, you could only watch it at the time it aired and usually, that was by connecting with your family around the same TV. However, with streaming, you can watch the same show at your own convenience without anyone else which causes distance. Now in regards to churches, many churches around the country are turning to technology by streaming their Sunday services and putting their content online to make it easier for people to access – I actually think this is great for churches to do (and needed), however, they must understand the reality is you might lose some of these young professionals as the result of this technology. As technology continues to advance in the church, you might not see them on Sundays as they are simply doing church at their own convenience….but you’re still considered their home church.
“They Will Be Back”
I heard one pastor say, “they will come back once they get married and have kids”. I’m not convinced that is true for this generation of young professionals, but even if it was, we might be talking about 10 years gap in between. My fear is not having anything for young professionals to plug into; the message we might accidentally be sending them is they have been written off…What do we do? Well, I’m not sure if the solution is to just make Sunday morning more modern because I personally know churches of over 500 people who are very modern yet still only get 4-5 young professionals out on a Sunday. At the end of the day, I think people can see if there’s intentionality or not so they might try to find a space that does care about connecting young professionals over one that doesn’t come across as they are intentional.
With all the focus, time and energy we put into every demographic in the church, what if we put the same emphasis on young professionals as we try to create a space to meet their needs?
If you are a pastor, leader, volunteer or simply a young professional who is looking for some help in this area. Please message me personally as I would love to connect and see how I could help you.