Recently I had the opportunity to review Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus is a Digital Babylon.
So many women’s ministry teams are struggling to reach younger generations.
Gen Z and millennials seem uninterested in our women’s ministry offerings. They rarely attend, and our efforts to reach out often fall flat. We may even assume the faith of these young adults is stagnant or lukewarm.
But are our assumptions correct? What about those who haven’t walked away from the faith? Why are some young adult Christians active in the church? Are there things we can do to reach the younger generations?
Faith for Exiles is about discovering what’s working and finding hope.
“This book distills what we’ve learned thus far about passing on lasting faith in Jesus in a culture increasingly indifferent and sometimes hostile to Christianity.”
Negative perceptions. Church dropouts. Prodigals and nomads. It’s easy to get discouraged by all that’s going wrong when it comes to Christianity and the emerging generation. Yet what’s going right? In fact, signs of hope are springing up all around. In Faith for Exiles, the author of unChristian and You Lost Me unveils major new Barna research that uncovers what’s working–five practices that contribute to resilience. Enter the world of resilient young adult Christians and learn how they are sustaining faith. Finally, you can find hope in all that God is doing among young disciples today.
In Faith for Exiles, authors David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock thoroughly examine each of the five practices that contribute to resilience.
- To form a resilient identity, experience intimacy with Jesus
- In a complex and anxious age, develop the muscles of cultural discernment
- When isolation and mistrust are the norms, forge meaningful, intergenerational relationships
- To ground and motivate an ambitious generation, train for vocational discipleship
- Curb entitlement and self-centered tendencies, by engaging in countercultural mission
While I’ve read several excellent books about Gen Z and the millennial generation, the majority of the content has been descriptive, not prescriptive. While I’ve gained a greater understanding of those we long to reach, I also find myself wishing for a “to-do” list.
Kinnaman and Matlock sprinkle practical ideas through Faith for Exiles that we can implement in our churches and women’s ministries to encourage and equip young adults.
As a mom of two young adults that straddle the Gen Z and millennial generation, I have a front-row seat to what life can be like for young Christian adults. The stories shared in Faith for Exiles, reflect what our sons have seen and experienced.
Many college campuses offer a dozen or more Christian organizations. Off-campus you’ll find thriving college ministries. Yet when those students graduate, they often flounder with no clear place for them to find community within the church. Too old for the college class, often unmarried and without children, these young adults are searching places where they can ask questions and dig deep into the Word of God. “Not only are the most engaged young Christian serious about personal faith and faithfulness, but they are also concerned for and thoughtful about how their faith in Christ intersects meaningfully and missionally with the world around them.”
Which begs the question, are we offering event and activities for all of our women, no matter their age, that encourages personal faith and faithfulness? Are we going deep enough? Are preparing our women to share Christ with the world around them? Are we creating situations in which women can take their faith on mission and out into the world?
I suspect we can all do more! And the authors think so too! “The church is one of the least demanding environments for young people, in terms of what they are asked to do mentally and emotionally and what is expected of them when it comes to serving and giving.”
Not only are we not engaging young adults, but many churches have a negative attitude toward millennials and Gen Z. “Ask a roomful of older adults what they think of Millenials, and you will see the mud start to sling.” Claims of entitlement, self-centeredness, and a lack of social skills are thrown about with ease. However, Faith for Exiles reveals that millennials have a much more favorable view of older adults describing them as generous or hospitable. Perhaps an attitude adjustment is needed…
We, all of us, have a considerable role in the faith of the next generation. “The top relational predictors for resilient Christians are these: I feel connected to a community of Christians; the church is the place where I feel I belong; I feel loved and valued in my church; I feel connected to people older than me in my church.”
Would the young women in your church say they feel connected to the women’s ministry?
Do they feel like they belong there? Are they valued by the other women in the church? Are they connected to the older women in your church? “The transfer of wisdom between generations is more important than ever because, unless we are intentional, young Christians will be raised by their devices and algorithms rather than by us.”
Faith for Exiles offers practical ideas that can help your team reach the next generation.
Disclosure: As a member of the Faith for Exiles launch team, I received a free copy of this book. No monetary compensation was received.
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Four years ago: How to Start a Prayer Group
Five years ago: Bible Study Leader Kit
Six years ago: How to Alienate Visitors