Techniques for Building Strong Young Adult Groups
August 1, 2001This is Part 2 of a two-part series on forming young adult groups. Part 1 appeared in June 2001.
When a member of Jefferson Unitarian Church, Golden, CO (475 members), came up to Rev. Todd Strickland last fall and asked what she could do to form a young adult (YA) group he gave her simple advice: Be visible.
The young woman, Melanie Solomon, began greeting people every Sunday and especially looking for other young adults. It wasn't long before a core group of four to five YAs formed. By spring there were eight to 10, with 20 on a mailing list.
They go to lunch after church, meet monthly to plan events like yoga retreats and dinners, and help at a food bank. They also work in a community garden and play a key role in the congregation's Wednesday night worship service.
Solomon's role was critical, says Strickland, minister of lifespan religious experience. "It made a huge difference that she was there to meet visitors. Most young adults are looking for someone who looks like them. One energetic person can really make the difference."
The Post Modern Marvels, a YA group at All Souls Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church, Kansas City, MO (326), began as a newsletter notice. Eight attended the first meeting. It does a monthly potluck, bimonthly social service projects, and movie nights. It raised the number of active YAs at All Souls from four to 12.
Nicole Schoenhals, a founding member, says, "What happened was that young adults who had visited All Souls actually started coming back and getting involved with our activities."
A YA group formed in January at Unitarian Church of Vancouver, BC (536), because several former youth group members, including Jeff Bailey and Nina Rosmini, wanted one. Together they identified other young adults from their own friends, church members, and older siblings of church youth group members. They run weekly meetings, planning social action, worship, religious education and "fun" events.
Have too few young adults? Rev. Diane Teichert formed a group in Massachusetts from several nearby UU congregations with the same problem. The group of about 30 stayed together several years. Other tips:
- Make sure your website speaks to young adults.
- Identify one young adult willing to take a leadership role
- Go to lunch at the same restaurant each Sunday for consistency and so late-rising YAs can find you.
- Do a church service to raise the group's visibility
- In doubt as to which way to go? Ask YAs what they would prefer.
For information on starting a Young Adult group, contact the Young Adult/Campus Ministry office, or complete a request form for an information packet. See also the website of the Continental Unitarian Universalist Young Adult Network (C*UUYAN).
Children of a Different Tribe: UU Young Adult Developmental Issues, (A 60-page paper presented at General Assembly 2000 by Sharon Hwang Colligan.) Send $12 to the author at P.O. Box 9550, Berkeley, CA 94709, or order through their website.
InterConnections Articles: To Attract Young Adults, Try Treating Them as Equals (January 1999), and Young Adults Need Special Attention to Feel at Home (June 2001).
For more information contact interconnections @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Wednesday, September 14, 2011.