May 18, 2012

Welcoming Young Adults

Editor’s Note: Guest blogger Chris Yaw’s passion is healthy churches. His ChurchNext ministry puts the spotlight on a diversity of ministries that are flourishing. He records and shares interviews with faith leaders so others can learn from their experiences. Click on the Interview link below to watch the video or download a podcast.

Let’s face it, for many churches today’s generation gap looks more like a chasm. So how do older churches go about welcoming young adults? After much research, and the popular book Tribal Church - Carol Howard Merritt has a few ideas.

I first heard about Carol after reading her popular blog, and was inspired by her clarity and common sense as she identifies the priorities many young Christians bring to community life: connection with God, a strong drive toward social justice, and a deep desire to connect. Be inspired by Carol’s wisdom and passion.

Watch the Full Program here 

No time to watch? Here's a synopsis of our conversation: 

Carol Howard Merritt sees the Church as well-poised to address the challenges of generational disconnection our present economic challenges are presenting. Here are my notes from the interview:

  • The Two Crises Carol sees the economic turmoil we’re experiencing causing two big problems: for older adults whose retirement resources have evaporated and college graduates with bleak employment prospects and a move back in with mom and dad. But could God be using these crises to help us rediscover community?
  • Listen, Really Listen A big reason why many churches have few young adults is because leadership pays only lip service to younger voices who, perhaps unconsciously, are snubbed for their lack of experience. What would listening, really listening to these voices look like in your congregation?
  • Lessons from the Occupy Movement First they set up a media/social media plan, then a hospitality plan, then an action/outreach plan. Carol says the modern church leader can learn from these Occupy priorities.

About Carol Howard Merritt

Carol Howard Merritt is a pastor at Western Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. Western is a traditional, intergenerational congregation and the home of Miriam’s Kitchen. Carol came to Western after serving growing congregations in Rhode Island and Louisiana. Carol is the award-winning author of Reframing Hope and Tribal Church. She blogs at, which is hosted by theChristian Century. She also writes for the Huffington Post and Duke Divinity’s Call and Response blog. She co-hosts the God Complex Radio podcast with Derrick Weston. She leads conferences and lectures around cultural shifts, generational issues, church revitalization, and writing.

Books Carol Recommends

I Heart Sex Workers – Lia Scholl
Pregmancy – Christian Piatt
Death of the Liberal Class – Chris Hedges