The effects of the digital revolution on this age group have been seismic. The ways in which we access and interact with information have been amongst the most significantly affected. As the church seeks to communicate the transformative message of Jesus with young adults, it must ask how best to do this against a backdrop of rapid change. We should consider both the way in which information is communicated and the vehicle through which it is delivered.

This conversation takes place in the kitchen. What food are you serving to nourish and help grow strong disciples? How is teaching prepared and delivered? What are the essential ingredients? 

Let us begin by considering the impact of the digital shift on how we teach and model the faith. The way that we access information through the internet activates the part of our brain wired for story, image, metaphor and creativity (see Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, D.Siegel). This means that narrative is key in engaging this generation; it is the wallpaper of their lives. Music videos, advertisements, sporting events, social media streams and more all attempt to tap into this powerful means of connecting. With this in mind, it is encouraging to consider that we are seeking to communicate the gospel, the most compelling story the world has ever known. Storytelling should be considered central to how we share with young adults the key truths of the Bible, the story of who you are as a church and your church’s mission in its community. [1]

The more creative we are in our communication style, the more memorable and engaging we are likely to be. That is not to say that we abandon logic and proclaim the bold propositional truth statements of the Bible. Young adults need and want both. In this respect, Jesus is an excellent role model. He would frequently declare bold truths, I am the way, the truth and the life,” and engage in logical, analytical debate. But He was also a brilliant storyteller: A man was walking from Jerusalem to Jericho… There was a man who had two sons.” Preaching to young adults must appeal to the logical, analytical left brain and the creative, story-hungry right brain. We must be more Christ-like in our communication. 

In addition to what we communicate in our main meetings, the fact that young adults live in a state of constant connection to information means that we should consider how we, as the church, can at least direct them to quality content throughout the week. The Sunday sermon, if our main discipleship tool, in isolation, has been referred to as doing dial-up ministry in a wifi world” (Kinnaman, Faith for Exiles). There is a wealth of online talks, podcasts and resources that can fuel a life of discipleship. We must consider how we act as curators and signposts to this content and explore how we might create our own.

[1] Carmine Gallo gives an excellent overview of the power of storytelling and its importance in a digital age: Gallo, C. (2016). The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch on and Others Don’t. St Martin’s Press.