Too often, church leaders will preach on the commission of Matthew 28:19-20—“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (ESV)—placing their entire focus on the word “Go,” but neglecting “make disciples” and “teaching.” However, if we are to take Jesus’ directive seriously, churches must do more to teach adults than simply provide coffee and a Sunday sermon. Specific ministry should be developed for adults.
What is Adult Ministry and Why.
Richard H. Gentzler, Jr. and Bill Crenshaw define adult ministry as a “comprehensive ministry that will enable persons to grow in faith and faithfulness as Christian disciples” (Gentzler and Crenshaw 2000, 13). This ministry is broad; potentially covering specific ministries directed at subsets of adults, such as, men’s and women’s ministries, singles and married groups, young adults, Sunday school, small groups, senior’s fellowship, or recovery and addiction programs. And given the many ministries that fall under a term like adult ministry, it is important they be coordinated to function well together toward the overarching vision of the church. Reaching adults at a deeper level affects the spiritual health of the community. “Since adults make up the majority of members in most congregations,” writes Getzler and Crenshaw, “the world of the coordinator heavily impacts the live of the congregation” (Gentzler and Crenshaw 2000, 8). Adult ministry certainly does not have to be complicate; Gentzler and Crenshaw offer the following guidance: “A leader of adults is on a spiritual journey and invites others to join in a pilgrimage” (Gentzler and Crenshaw 2000, 9).
“Adults who participate actively in the full range of worship, learning, and service opportunities through the church,” according to Gentzler and Crenshaw, “will grow in their faith and faithfulness as they grow older” (Gentzler and Crenshaw 2000, 13). This means that adult ministries are not just social gathering alone, they are opportunities to participate in something greater. As a leader of adult ministries, the leader “can help adults of all ages grow toward spiritual maturity by providing a caring and challenging environment for study, reflection, and action” (Gentzler and Crenshaw 2000, 13). While in no way an exhaustive list, this paper will turn its focus to examining some specific adult ministries opportunities.
Examples of Adult Ministry.
All ages of adults can benefit from a targeted ministry. Young adults are just transitioning into adulthood and are accustomed to an educational setting as well as social opportunities. Moving into a more mature program is an easy transition and sets a trend for lifelong learning and fellowship. This is typically the age when many will drift away from the church, so a program specifically for this age group offers a great strength to the church. A young adult program may actually provide the answers and growth to help a young adult see the continual need for Christ. Middle-aged believers are often neglected because they are so busy. They often have jobs, children, and little time. A ministry for this group of adults must be aware of these difficulties but can served as a great help for this group and a leadership training ground. In today’s society, there are many in the middle-aged category that are single parents and need an opportunity for fellowship and growth more than ever. And seniors still need to fellowship and grow in Christ. Not only do they need ministered too, they themselves often have time and ability to be ministers to other adults.
A small group program is a great way to provide opportunities across age groups. In these programs, adults can learn, fellowship, and grow in a smaller, safe community of believers. In addition, groups for men or women only allow specific issues to be ministered to and taught. A singles group is a great way to help those dealing with loneliness and it is also a great outreach beyond the walls of the church.
The suggestions provided here are few. A church leader should look at the needs of the body, pray continually, and work to develop strong ministries for adults that will result in spiritual maturity and growth. This will not only help the individual adult, it will help the community of believers.
Gentzler, Richard H., Jr. and Bill Crenshaw. Adult Ministries: Ministries that help adults love
God and neighbor.
Nashville, Tenn: Abingdon Press, 2000.
*Photo taken by Dietmar Temps Photography and is licensed under a creative commons license.