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 the shape of leadership

Helping Young Adults Own Their Faith

Five ways to offer guidance and support

Kent Ingle on September 26, 2022

Children may grow up attending church, praying at meals, and participating in family devotionals, but that doesn’t guarantee they will continue these traditions. Once young people reach adulthood and venture out on their own, they will need to take ownership of their faith.

Church leaders, mentors, and parents can make a significant difference by guiding young adults on this journey. Below are five ways to help.

 

Lead by Example

Parents have a bigger influence than they may realize on the lives of their children. Many Christian young adults would readily admit their faith wouldn’t be where it is without their parents’ examples. This is why it’s critical that we lay a biblical foundation children can build upon when they are no longer under our supervision.

My mother was one of the greatest spiritual influences in my life. She not only took us to church, but also modeled Christ in everything she did.

At home, I often found my mother reading her Bible or praying for her family. As I grew, I wanted to do these things too.

After introducing the Israelites to the Ten Commandments, Moses said, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

Our children should see us living a life of faith — praying, reading Scripture, sharing our testimonies, and engaging in church activities. This will continue to make an impression on our kids even after they leave home.

When they have doubts, young adults need to know they always have a safe place to ask questions, whether at home or church.

As a church body, we also must continue to guide and encourage young adults in their faith. Maturing as a disciple of Jesus takes time. There may be moments when young adults feel broken and far from God. They will need loving Christians to rally around them, pray for them, and help them grow in their faith.

 

Promote Bible Engagement

Many young adults don’t read the Bible. According to American Bible Society’s 2022 State of the Bible report, the biggest hindrance for Generation Z (born 1997–2012) is not knowing where to start.

Leaders and parents must teach young adults how to read the Bible on their own. I often recommend beginning with the New Testament, since some books in the Old Testament can be difficult to comprehend. One good resource is The One Year Bible, which provides a starting point and daily Scripture reading.

Young people are looking for leaders
who will consistently
invest in their lives
on a personal level.

Encourage young adults to start by reading 10–15 minutes of Scripture per day. This is likely far less time than they will spend on social media.

Reading the Bible is vital for a healthy relationship with Christ. Matthew 4:4 reminds us we should not “live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Although devotional books can contribute to spiritual growth, they are not a replacement for Bible reading. As young adults begin to engage with Scripture, we need to help them process what they are reading and discuss with them the importance of applying it in their lives.

 

Mentor

While close friend groups can have a significant impact on spiritual growth, young adults also need seasoned mentors in the faith — individuals who have been Christians for several years or even decades.

When I was a teenager, my pastor mentored me weekly. As I observed his spiritual life and work, I discovered what it was like to live for Christ daily while serving in ministry.

Young people are looking for leaders who will consistently invest in their lives on a personal level. We need to make it a priority as leaders to find young adults we can mentor. We should encourage congregants to develop mentoring mindsets as well.

One young adult shared with me that although her Christian friendships are beneficial, spiritual mentors have had the greatest impact on her life. She trusts her mentors when it comes to helping interpret the Bible.

Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” Spiritual mentors can challenge, support, and provide direction to help young adults remain rooted in their faith.

Mentors can guide young adults in setting up a Bible reading plan and help those who are new to the faith discover what it means to be a Christian.

 

Point to Prayer

Prayer should be a daily part of every Christian’s life, but it’s a habit that can take time to develop.

Gen Z is used to getting answers from the internet in an instant. It may be difficult for young adults to recognize the value of slowing down and spending time in stillness to hear from God.

Some young adults may not even know how to pray. They will need people to come alongside and teach them.

Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Whether they’re dealing with mundane things or navigating arduous moments, young adults must learn to seek God.

 

Encourage Evangelism

As they develop in their faith, young adults will want to share Christ’s message with others.

Encourage them to tell their story of salvation and talk about their faith. Help them learn to respond to difficult questions. This might even make them want to dig deeper into the Bible for answers.

Remind young adults God will be with them as they share His truth. In Mark 13, Jesus said the Holy Spirit can give us the right words when we don’t know what to say (verse 11).

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