Mission with young adults  

How can the Church reach and retain 18-30-year-olds?

linked-hands-1308777 - croppedIn 2017, the Church of England asked Church Army’s Research Unit to find out about successful, unsuccessful, and unproven mission with young adults (aged 18 to 30) which has taken place within the Church of England, other denominations, or through para-church groups.

In researching this topic, we completed 12 case studies of different approaches to mission and evangelism with non-churched young adults.

Team photo

The 12 case studies can be accessed below (or from the menu bar on the right), along with a report on the main findings. These highlight the importance of three key principles in mission with young adults:

  1. Spaces to belong – The need to create spaces where young adults can belong and feel part of a community before they believe  
  2. Spaces for exploring faith together – The need to be deliberate about creating further spaces for sharing and exploring faith together
  3. “Not as difficult as you think” – As our twelfth case study (Things that were tried and died) demonstrates, mission with young adults is not easy. But a key theme that emerged from many of the churches we visited was: reaching and engaging with 18-30-year-olds may not be as difficult as you think.

Summary video

The main findings report

Download PDF of this report here

The 12 case studies

  1. The Hub Church, Hitchin - a church that’s by young adults for young adults (includes short film)
  2. 1st floorHarbour Church, Portsmouth - a second generation Holy Trinity Brompton church plant 
  3. regeneration, Romford - the youth church that grew up … into something no one could have expected (includes short film)
  4. Wolverhampton Pioneer Ministries - mission with young adults on the margins (includes short film)
  5. DNA Football Church, Colchester - football church leading non-churched young men to faith
  6. Unlimited Church, Exeter - city centre encounters leading to genuine, lasting relationships
  7. St Mark’s MK, Milton Keynes - attracting young adults almost by accident
  8. Hot Cross BunsRed Church, Ormskirk - reaching young adults through community 
  9. Kingdom Overflow, Cranham - reaching young adults through attractive worship and extreme love
  10. The Way, Carlisle - young adult mission through university chaplaincy
  11. St Paul’s Weston - new mission opportunities in a newer university
  12. Things that were tried and died - why do so some young adult mission initiatives die?

Further resources

This research was a follow-up to Beth Keith’s 2013 study, authentic faith: fresh expressions of church amongst young adults, which was undertaken for Church Army and Fresh Expressions.

Some other helpful resources we have found on mission with young adults are detailed in our main findings report (see Appendix 1).