by Fiona Weckert
Young adults – who are they and where are they?
It can be difficult to define a young adult. The Australian Bureau of Statistics records young adults as between 18 and 34 years of age. Some would argue you’re a young adult at 16 and still a young adult at 38! Often the church refers to a young adult as someone aged between 18 and 24, but then where do you fit after the age of 24 if you aren’t a ‘young married’ or ‘new parent’ or are still living at home (a ‘kidult’)? It’s a challenging time for the church, but an equally challenging time for young adults.
Early in 2014 Lutheran Youth of Queensland (LYQ) conducted an online survey of young adults aged 18–25 to find out how they view themselves, their faith and their church.
Of the 321 persons who responded, 283 identified as Christian, 22 as non- Christian and 16 as ‘sort-of’ Christian. Two hundred responders had grown up in the Lutheran church and around 85 per cent of them still identify as Lutheran. Most (257 survey responders) attend worship at least monthly, with almost 72 per cent of them attending church each week.
It is important here to remember that this survey group is very small: the majority of them come from the 20 per cent of young people who have stuck with the church and with faith in some way. Other research tells us that we lose 80 per cent of young people who were connected to the church as children by the time they become adults. Christian researcher Phillip Hughes estimates that this is as many as 50,000 young people every year from Australian churches.
All survey answers were given anonymously. Questions were asked around several main themes, most of them with set options to choose from.
- the experience of transition to new congregations and the extent of preparation for such an event;
- the spiritual background and current spiritual activity of family;
- aspects of a faith journey to this point, including youth group and Christian Life Week attendance, family devotions/faith talk and times of ‘wandering away from the faith’;
- spirituality and current church attendance of friends;
- for all regular and non-regular worshippers, two free-field questions: