There are hopeful signs that significant numbers of young adults will become Christians in the coming years. But what will be the common pathways to faith? How can we make the most of the opportunities that we have to communicate the good news to this generation and invite them to follow Jesus? 

This is a conversation about evangelism, and it takes place in the garden.

The garden is an apt image for mission and evangelism. As well as being the area of welcome outside the house itself, its bedrock is the soil out of which everything grows. In this conversation we will consider what that soil is like, how we can prepare it to receive the seed of the gospel and how we best communicate the message of Jesus to young adults.

The soil in which we find ourselves presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is that the prevailing western culture is post-Christian, pluralistic, liberal and secular. Moreover, this generation is naturally suspicious of anything that appears traditional or institutional and naturally resists commitment.

On the other hand, whilst not choosing to identify with traditional religion, there has not been a wholesale shift to atheism. We should be aware and encouraged that even though most young adults would not identify as a practising Christian, they are spiritually hungry and open to exploring faith, meaning and purpose. Sixty per cent of all British adults say miracles are possible, but the percentage is higher than any other age group (almost 75 per cent) among 18 – 24 year olds. During the pandemic, between a third and a half of all UK young adults attended an online church service, and one in 20 of all adults began to pray.

So how do we best reach them? The first and most natural and effective way is through young adults themselves. Where authority is viewed with suspicion, and at a time when high value is placed on authentic friendship, a critical factor in most 18 – 30s journey to faith will be seeing and hearing from a Christian friend or colleague. The 2015 Talking Jesus study

found that most non-Christians know a Christian and that that person is most likely to be a friend. Therefore, a key question for us is, how are we equipping and inspiring this age group to reach their friends?

The next consideration is that young adults are open to inviting their friends to church. As a church, we must think about how we not only encourage this but also provide an environment where young adult Christians feel comfortable inviting their friends. Listening to young adults will be critical here.

Finally, we must think about the words we use when we communicate the gospel. In a post-Christian, anti-religious world, much of our language will fail to connect with people, so we must think carefully about how we talk about the Bible and communicate the timeless gospel with confidence and clarity.