Young Adults In Oklahoma and What They Think

Ryan and I have been doing a webinar (seminar on the web) about once a month with Chris Lowery from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. The focus of these webinars is reaching young adults. Fairly common these days is the assertion that not only are churches not reaching young adults but they are not keeping them either, generally speaking of course. Everyone has their opinion about why this is happening and consequently, they have an opinion about what we need to do to reach and keep young adults. But this topic is especially relevant to Eagle Heights for at least three reasons. First, we are young church, though multi-generational, that is at least initially reaching young adults. Secondly, since we are reaching young adults, we need to know how to keep them and disciple them. Third, Eagle Heights is in a town that made up of young adults. The median age of Stillwater residents is around 31 to 33 years.

Eagle Heights should be reaching peoples of all ages and backgrounds because people of all ages and backgrounds live in Stillwater, but we ought to be reaching young adults because for no other reason, that is who lives in our micropolitan. That’s why Ryan and I are sitting in on these webinars. We want to reach young adults and we want to keep young adults and make disciples of young adults for the glory of God through Jesus. Here is a sampling of what we learned on Thursday with head phones on, listening to people from all over the state.

A young adult is considered a person from the ages of 18-34, at least for the sake of research. The BGCO surveyed 321 churched young adults and 300 unchurched young adults. An unchurched young adult in Oklahoma is someone who had not been to church in six months for a reason other than a wedding, funeral, Christmas or Easter. Here is some information that I jotted down.

  • 18% of young adults have been to Fall’s Creek
  • 80% of unchurched in Oklahoma are dechurched.
  • 15.4% are radically unchurched. Which means they have never been to church or were not raised in church.
  • On Christmas, only 14% of the unchurched came to church.
  • On Easter, only 17% of the unchurched came to church.
  • Unchurched people strongly agree that you can have a good relationship with God without being involved in church.
  • If a young adult, including the unchurched, wanted spiritual guidance, 40% would go to someone they knew and considered a spiritual authority, 22% would read a book, 16% would go to church and 40% don’t know what they would do.
  • Young adults believe that Christianity today is more about organized religion. That is how they identify to place of the church or the role of the church.
  • Other Observations or Statement From the Webinar

  • With young adults the best approach to evangelism is to convert them to a friend before we can convert them to a Christ-follower
  • Friends will come to church with friends because their church-going friends are excited about the church they go to.
  • There was much more than this, but these were the notes or stats or observations that stood out to me. What do you make of the data? Simply put, it is a new day and people are different. They have the same need of the same gospel that people in the past have had, but we must be willing to understand and admit that what has worked in the past may not work anymore. At least when it comes to our methods for getting the gospel to the unchurched. May God through Jesus give us wisdom to engage people with the gospel, even if it is different than the way we would or used to do it.

About brentprentice

Brent is the lead pastor and one of the Elders at Eagle Heights in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He has been married to Lacey for 14 years and together they love two sons, Luke and Elijah, and a daughter, Bella.

Posted on October 2, 2009, in Eagle Heights. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Very true. The unchurched, and even young people, find church services “boring” and long. (Not all do, but likely some of the ones surveyed.) Young people don’t like to be preached to; they like to be talked to, in a way that relates to their current and daily life. They want acceptance, and to see genuine and on-going compassion and “living of the word” out of church-goers.

    Going to a new church if you’ve never been is awkward. There’s walking awkwardly into Sunday school. Maybe you nervously talk to a few people who greet you. Then, finding your way to the service. You sit there alone, then awkwardly (again) stand there during the greeting. You try to muster your way through songs you don’t know, then sit for (seemingly) a long sermon (seemingly long because you don’t really know anyone, and are uncomfortable). Then, you go home again.

  2. Obstacles of young people for church:

    – Forgetting
    – Feeling too busy or stressed
    – Saying they’ll “do it next week”… then next week, saying they do it the next…
    – Feeling that they will be judged, or feeling that they might see hypocrisy (and not understanding that everyone makes mistakes, that’s why there’s grace)
    – Simple things, like services being early. Young people who ‘celebrate’ or stay up late on weekends don’t want to be somewhere at 9 or 10 on a weekend morning. They’re at work at week at 9, and feel like the weekend is their break. I would dare to say that this is one of the biggest challenges to draw in young people. They simply don’t want to dress up and be somewhere at 9 or 10-something on a weekend. Maybe 11 or 12, but more likely 1. It’s a generation of night owls.
    – Preferring small groups to large church services.
    – Not knowing what church to go to, or which matches their beliefs.
    – Finding services hard to understand, too long, too boring, etc.
    – Not feeling like they find the right church
    – Not having good friends at the church
    – Not really knowing the people there
    – Not feeling truly connected and involved, not feeling missed.
    – Not knowing how to be involved and/or worrying about the time commitment
    – Choosing spirituality or individual relationships over the fellowship of church

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