By Dennis Franck
When I first began my ministry to young adults and single adults, I had little understanding of what their basic needs were! I had to learn them and begin to build a ministry that would meet these needs. Fortunately, people were willing to teach me by example and through discussion. After many years in these two ministries, I still think the basic needs of young adults and single adults can be summarized in these five categories. Many of these can help lead them to Christ and develop a more intimate relationship with Him…the most important need and priority of all!
- Healthy Friendships -Young adults and single adults want opportunities to develop healthy friendships with males and females. It is one of their highest desires and needs. A good scripture supporting this is I Corinthians 11:11, the Living translation. It says, “In God’s plan, men and women need each other.” I believe men can learn from women’s sensitive perspective, and women can learn from men’s logical perspective. I am not saying all men are logical or all women are sensitive! But in general, it is true!
We also need friendships of the same sex. Leaders should be purposely planning classes and activities with fellowship opportunities in mind. Time needs to be given for casual friendships to develop. From these friendships comes the chance for close, healthy relationships of the same and opposite gender to form.
- Relevant Teaching – I believe another common need of young adults and single adults is relevant teaching from a biblical, and single adult perspective. I realize that many young adult ministries also contain married adults and I do not want to leave them out. The majority of people in these ministries are unmarried, however. Topics such as Developing Healthy Friendships, Self Esteem, Sexuality, Managing Finances, Single Parenting, Dating, etc. need to be taught differently to single adults than married adults.
I often ask this question to leaders…if the Church doesn’t teach these issues from a biblical perspective, where are our young adults and single adults going to get their information? I think we know where! The world and its places: internet, television, movie theaters and rental stores, magazines, newspapers, non-Christian friends, etc. Will these give biblical insight on life’s issues?
- Discussion Opportunities – Both structured and unstructured times of discussion need to be given in two main areas: social life and spiritual life. Most young adults and single adults go home to an empty apartment, or one with a dog, cat or child! They want and deserve opportunities to discuss their day, their opinions and their life! Married couples (some of them anyway), go home to a spouse and talk about these things. Many young adults and single adults do not have a regular friend or friends with whom they can discuss their lives. Our ministries need to provide opportunities for this to happen.
Teaching needs to be followed by times of discussion in small and large group settings. Men want to hear what women think, women want to hear what men think, and many want to hear what others think no matter what the gender. Learning takes place when we listen and respond to others’ comments. The greatest teacher may not impart as much knowledge and learning as a discussion can!
- Social/Recreational Activities - Another basic need of young adults and single adults is quality social and recreational activities. A ministry needs to provide opportunities for events that meet the both social and physical/recreational needs. People should not have to look to the world to find wholesome, fun events and places to go to fulfill their desire and need for activities. Young adults and single adults should be planning and running the activities themselves to ensure they are need-fulfilling and fun.
- Outreach Opportunities - One basic need that is often overlooked is opportunities for outreach to the community and beyond. When living life alone, people can become selfish by necessity. There may be no one to help with the household chores, car repairs, home repairs, paying the bills, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, etc. Single adults (except single parents) need to be challenged to look outside themselves and begin to help meet the needs of others.
Young adults often have a passion for practical and spiritual outreach ministry which bring meaningful help to the lives of others. A wise leader will make sure there are outreach opportunities available for young adults and single adults to participate in on a regular basis. This not only helps them grow personally, but gives a positive image to the church of the ministry.