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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...



Connections: Dennis Franck and Ryan Moore

Serving Single Adults and Young Adults

Dennis Franck, director of Assemblies of God Single Adult Ministries, and Ryan Moore, coordinator of AG Young Adult Ministries, help resource churches serving these segments of the congregation. Theirs is a diverse ministry: Young adult ministry encompasses those aged 18-35, though that varies by church. Single adult ministry is multigenerational, including those never married, the divorced, the widowed and single parents of all ages. Franck and Moore recently spoke with Technical Editor James Meredith about the role and importance of single and young adult ministry in the church.

evangel: Single adult ministry and young adult ministry are sometimes regarded as greatly overlapping, if not almost synonymous. Yet the ministries are much more diverse than that. Can you explain the distinction?

FRANCK: There can be a tendency to lump single adults of any age, and those who are single for any reason (never married, divorced, widowed, single parent), into one group — and even one ministry — in the church. But differences between these groups, such as specific needs, interests, and concerns, for example, call for a distinction. Although spiritual needs may be the same, personal needs and life experiences are vastly different.

Thus, young adult ministry usually focuses on those aged 18-35 (or some segment of that range) who are more often than not unmarried. Single adult ministry encompasses all adults in their 30s, 40s and 50s who share the common life situation of being single or single again.


evangel: What are some ways young adults make a unique contribution to the local church?

MOORE: This generation of young adults is very culturally and globally aware of what’s going on around them. Social networking has made it possible for the news to actually come to them instead of them having to search for it. Consequently, they know of the hurt and the suffering going on all around the world — and they sense a real desire to do something about it.

As a result, when they see a problem, they are quickly inclined to think, How can I do something about this to make it better? How can I contribute, help or restore? One example is the issue of abortion. Instead of just affirming that abortion is wrong, they also want to get involved in foster care, helping single moms or those who are considering an abortion. Today’s young adults are motivated to make a difference through ministry in practical ways.


evangel: It’s often said that the young adults of this generation are unique, and different in many ways from previous generations. How do churches bridge that generation gap?

MOORE: I would emphasize that young adults today tend to think less programmatically and more relationally. So the church can look for ways to bridge that gap in a relational way. Set up a time when older members can serve the young adults in some aspect, and then have the young adults and college students do the same. Instead of having separate events for various age groups, get everyone involved at once. Invite some older people to a young adult bowling night. Or have a banquet for families or seniors, while encouraging the young adults to serve.

Keep in mind, too, that they want to step out and be leaders. A lot of young adults just want a voice, and an opportunity to lead something.

FRANCK: I think it’s also important to cultivate cross-generational friendships and service, because this will foster more openness to grow together, to learn from each other, to realize that we don’t need to stay in our own age groups all the time. When we’re serving each other or having fun together, we’re learning to trust and to relate. We may be of different age groups, but we have many things in common.


evangel: Share some examples of how churches are reaching out to single adults and young adults across the Fellowship.

FRANCK: There are some creative things happening across the country in single adult ministries. For example, some churches are starting a divorce recovery ministry. They promote it within the congregation as well as in the community, and unbelievers are finding their way into the church as a result. It’s exciting to see them come in and experience the love and fellowship of believers. They come from all age groups, and they’re struggling through divorce. The ministry, then, becomes an outreach to the community, and it often grows the people as well as the church. It’s effective as an outreach because people in need — even in crisis — see that the church cares about them.

Another example churches are implementing is a single parent fellowship group. They get together to discuss the needs of single parents as well as the needs of their children — topics like financial struggles, parenting and time management. It’s exciting to see people in need from the community get together with believers who might be facing the same hurts and challenges. This offers opportunities for ministry as well as evangelism.


evangel: What are some of the biggest issues that single and young adults face today, and how can churches help them confront these issues?

FRANCK: Spiritual growth is a big issue. Most churches have adult classes that offer teaching and discussion on spiritual growth issues, yet they don’t necessarily hit on the targeted issues that a person might face as a young adult or single adult. I think the church is wise to address topics like healthy friendships and relationships, biblical dating, finding God’s will, managing finances as a single person, living away from home, issues of sexuality as a single adult, and making good decisions.


MOORE: For young adults, specifically, identity is a huge issue because they’re going through so many “in between” stages. They’re in between what their parents taught them and discovering things on their own. If they grew up in the church, they’re in between what their pastor and youth group taught them and discovering theology and doctrine on their own as well.

In addition, the process of growing up and gaining independence is being delayed more today than in the past. It’s been said that 25 is the new 18. People are living at home longer than they ever have before. They’re attending the community college down the street rather than a distant university. People later in life are going back to college as well. And because higher education is more important now than ever, they must go to school longer in order to achieve their goals.


FRANCK: Our society is more complex than it was 20 years ago, so it takes longer to adjust to life on your own. And adjustments aren’t confined simply to young adults. Older single adults, those who’ve lost a marriage partner or had a marriage partner walk out on them, are having to adjust to a whole new life as a single-again person, widowed or divorced. Life becomes extremely challenging. It presents a great opportunity for the church to reach out in ministry to them.


evangel: Can you offer a few hints on how a church might develop its own ministry to single and young adults?

MOORE: It sounds simple, but I think a church just needs to start by doing something. Recognize the value of young adults and single adults. Then let them know they are valued and actually belong in your church. Let them know you care.

One good, practical suggestion I’d give pastors is to find a core of five or six young adults in your church and invite them over to your house. Then simply ask them what they would like to see happen among young adults in the church and offer some group vision casting. As they become involved at a grass-roots level, they will begin to share their own ideas for ministry.

A big part of beginning such a ministry is simply giving them a voice and allowing them to get involved — even if what they do is different from what you imagined, or different from what other churches are doing.


FRANCK: There’s a lot of value in simply asking single adults and young adults their opinions. Let them tell you about their vision, because people will support what they help to create. It might start with a social activity, a discussion, or a Bible study on Friday night. They are looking for things to do. If the church doesn’t provide something wholesome and healthy, they may find other activities that are not. I think it’s vital that we provide some wholesome opportunities for them during the month.

Single adults and young adults want to get together for fellowship as well as discipleship and growth. There are many different ways we can help make these opportunities happen.

For more information on single adult and young adult ministries, visit singles.ag.org and youngadults.ag.org.

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