My hands are clammy, my brain is whizzing, I begin to panic. From the front, the pastor has spoken those dreaded words: “Turn to the person next to you and discuss…”

As a young person, I hated it when this happened in a church service. In fact, I would actively avoid it. You’d most likely have found my eyes up at the ceiling, pretending I didn’t hear until the person sat next to me had found a new conversation partner. But now, as a young adult, I really welcome this kind of interaction; I want to get involved, play a part and have a say in the service. And I am not the only one in my generation who wants to get engage; young adults place high value on interaction, collaboration and participation. 

But are there more inventive ways local churches can encourage interactivity? Drawing on conversations I have had with friends, peers and church leaders about what they have seen and done, here are my three top tips: 

  • In the building: Incorporate interactive panels and questions into your Sunday services

Panels discussions are a great way to explore a variety of topics interactively (this could also introduce aspects of what has been discussed in the dining room conversation). Panels discussions also give churchgoers the opportunity to hear from different people. You could use panels discussions as part of a sermon series or a standalone event looking at a particular topic. Young adults are most likely to engage with panel discussions that welcome questions from the floor and create ample opportunity for them to interact with what is being discussed. This allows young adults to make a contribution, rather than just consume. 

  • Outside the building: Make the most of your social media accounts

Churches that have a social media presence often use their channels to relay information about the church or its activities. As such, it is often an overlooked means of increasing participation with those involved in your church. Churches would benefit from making their posts more interactive. You could, for example, introduce questions in the captions of your post, or encourage people to share prayer requests in the comments or their favourite part of the sermon. The church I grew up in, Sutton Coldfield Baptist Church, has done this well in recent months, which has caught the attention of young adults. In one of its posts, which I particularly enjoyed they asked people to send in their what you are doing at 15:03?’ photo. These were then shared in the following Sunday service and people would pray for the areas or workplaces the congregation were in at that time. This was poignant for the young adults who had just moved back from university and started new jobs. 

  • In small groups: Running evangelistic courses are a great place to start

If you want to increase interactivity amongst the young adults at your church, a short evangelistic course, such as those offered by Alpha and Christianity Explored, would be a great place to start. These have absolutely nailed some of what the 7 Conversations has covered about participation and interactivity. The courses are easy to use, coming with all the resources you need to get going, and they have great appeal, especially amongst the young adult generation. So, if your church has regular small groups, why not encourage leaders to spend a few weeks going through these courses with their groups? Young adults will appreciate the opportunity these courses provide for robust discourse. 

This blog is part of 7 Conversations, a suite of interactive, integrated resources for leaders in local settings seeking to understand young adults and bring them into a rock-solid relationship with Jesus.

7 conversations your church needs to have to reach young adults

7 conversations your church needs to have to reach young adults

A suite of resources to help your church reach, engage and disciple 20s and 30s Find out more