One way that churches could make an immediate impact in their communities is to host spaces for young adults to gather and make connections. The mainline church in town used to do this; many of the people over 60 in my congregation talk about meeting their spouse at church, either at the Sunday morning service, at a Bible study, or, in the case of really forward thinking congregations, at a young adult group.
But the exodus of young adults from mainline congregational life has meant that a viable mechanism for post-college young adults to make positive connections with peers is gone. What would it take to build that again, but in a way that was truly for the young adults in the community and not for the congregation to fill in a missing demographic?
I got connected to a church full of young adults in my early 20’s, right after college, and it saved my life. It makes me sad now, as a pastor, to talk to young adults who are struggling to get connected to a peer group, whether they’re new to town or have returned to where they grew up. The challenge is the same.
It’s probably not healthy to try and make those connections for people. But could the local mainline congregation provide a kind of platform for motivated young adults to meet peers and make those connections themselves?