Reimagining Young Adult Ministry

written by Scott Pontier
11 · 02 · 17

I knew this student who planted a church, almost on accident.

He had gotten so connected at our church that, when he left to go back to school after a semester at home, he was sad to leave us behind. “There just aren’t any churches near campus that fit well for us college students,” he said. His mom graciously offered to sit in the front row with a laptop and Skype him in every Sunday morning.

But then we had an even better idea.


“What if…” we thought.

What if, instead of mom with a laptop, we set up a camera and tried to live stream the service?

What if, instead of doing this just for you, we invited students from your campus?

What if, instead of our church just doing something for you, we helped you build a ministry that would reach your friends.

And that’s what we started doing.

What happened next

A semester later, he had a leadership team and 60+ college students who would reserve a lecture hall on Sunday mornings. They would eat bagels, drink coffee, lead worship together and tune in to our sermon. Parents and grandparents visiting for the weekend would join the group for worship. Still-hung-over students would get invited out of bed by friends and join the group for worship.

That was the beginning of a new, unexpected, expression of our church.

It was also the beginning of a book, “Reimagining Young Adult Ministry: A Guidebook for the Ordinary Church.”

New ways of thinking

I happened to find myself working with an unexpectedly high ratio of college students and 20-somethings in that particular church.  As I stumbled from happy accident to unexpected success, and finally to complete failure, I began to notice new ways of thinking about young adult ministry.  And I noticed the methods that the churches who were succeeding with Millennials were utilizing.

I say “new ways of thinking” because, by and large, churches across the country are still trying the same things in their work with college students and young adults. At the same time, churches everywhere are finding little to no success utilizing these methods.

Reimagining Young Adult Ministry

So Mark Devries and I set out to capture some of these mistakes. And one of the things we realized was that most of them actually look like success when in the beginning.  But, those “successes” can lead you down the road of missing the mark, like “starting a program for young adults” and “asking the youth director to run it.” We began to identify and clarify the new ways of thinking with young adults that can get churches moving in the right direction.

Not just cool churches that have the corner on the market of hipster worship or Ted talk preaching, but every single church who wants to make an impact with young adults. Even the old churches. Even the out-of-touch churches. Even your church.

Most of the conversation in blogs, books, podcasts and in the pews around young adults and the church would tell you that it’s a lost cause.  But we don’t think so. We think the church is on the verge of reimagining its mission to work with the next generation to change the world.  And maybe this book might just be the tip of the iceberg for the impact your church can make.

SPECIAL BONUS: Right now you can download the Study Guide for free!


Scott Pontier

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