I was talking here last time about attending the recent Louisiana Baptist Religious Educators Association meeting. Here is a summary of what Dr. Joe Sherrer of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary presented under the topic “Top Ten Current Trends and Issues in Adult Ministry” based on a survey of 120 prominent Adult Ministry leaders.
1. In most churches there is a lack of a clear, concise, over-arching ministry plan for adults. (65% of all leaders identified this as a concern)
2. Churches are struggling with intentional programming issues for discipleship—how to know when, where, and what to provide for adults.
3. Today’s adults are less committed to church membership and exhibit less loyalty to a specific church and to the denomination than in the past.
4. Young Adults tend to value relationships and discovering authentic points of ministry more than formal membership, organizational structures, and traditional meeting times.
5. Adult ministry is significantly impacted by changing family structures—divorce, blended families, cohabitation, adoptions, etc.
6. Technology—the internet, email, online communities, text messaging, use of media in the church, etc.—significantly impacts adult ministry. The use of technology is a must in almost every area of ministry and worship.
7. Aging Boomers are not likely to become involved in the current approaches to senior adult ministry.
8. There is little difference in the values and lifestyles of adults in the church and in the general population in America.
9. There is a trend toward modifying the traditional Sunday School approach for adults. In some churches this is as simple as renaming the adult classes. In others it involves using small group Bible studies during the week that parallel the Sunday School organization. Other churches are using larger adult Sunday School classes.
10. Because of a variety of pressures, adults are less willing to commit significant time to church participation or leadership.
Joe then also shared two trends identified in the survey that were surprising to him because he thought they would have ranked much higher in the list. At #45 was—Adult groups including Women’s and Men’s groups are becoming more formalized and organized. At #44 was—There is a rise in gender specific ministries in many churches.
My personal opinion is that anyone who has been closely observing adult ministry knows this is a pretty accurate picture of the current state of adult ministry in churches.
Until next time...share the journey and enjoy the ride!