At the 2016 LCMS Youth Gathering, Young Adult Volunteers traveled from across the country to New Orleans to serve the nearly 25,000 Gathering participants.  Young Adult Volunteers worked behind the scenes directing participants to Interest Centers, engaging youth on the Experiential Floor, directing traffic flow in and out of the Mass Events and so much more.  Lead by DCE Brandon Heath and a phenomenal team of leaders, the Young Adult Volunteers were critical to making the 2016 Gathering a success.

For the first time, we asked Young Adult Volunteers to take a short poll based partially on the LYF Youth Poll that has been conducted at most previous Gatherings.  Of the 582 Young Adult Volunteers, 512 took the poll, giving us a glimpse into the lives of our congregation’s most active young adults.  91% report attending worship at least a few times a month.  More than half report attending a Bible Study at least once a month. 

One section of the poll attempt to gauge the level of support these young people felt in their faith lives. We were delighted to see that

  • 87.8% said their congregation was supportive.
  • 94.4% said their parents were supportive.
  • 81.3% said their friends were supportive.

It is not a coincidence that the young adults who are highly active in congregations beyond high school have a support system encouraging their faith life.  In fact, this level of support is vital for keeping young people in the church as they grow and transition into adulthood.  We pray every young person has a local congregation who loves them, parents dedicated to faith engagement at home, and friends who encourage their personal faith. 

We asked if Young Adult Volunteers felt their pastor cares about them personally, and

  • 55.4% strongly agreed.
  • 34.4% agreed.
  • Only 10.2% said they weren’t sure or disagreed.

It is to be commended that so many young people feel connected and cared for by their pastor.  There is clearly a correlation between these highly active young adults and the connection they feel to the shepherd of their local church. 

In this data, we did find areas of concern when it comes to supportive environments for faith development. 

  • Overall, young men are less likely to have friends who were supportive of their faith than young women.  (75.9% vs 83.1%)
  • Only 77% of full-time working women strongly agreed or agreed that their pastor cared about them, in contrast to 94% of working men. 

As young adults move rapidly through new stages in life, this data points us to individuals in our congregations who may need a special and concerted effort to build connection.  Creating a supportive faith environment is an ongoing task.

This first Young Adult Volunteer poll gave us valuable information.  The full data will be explored in April’s LCMS Reporter, and we certainly hope to expand it in future Gatherings. 

Additionally, this poll lit a desire to get an even clearer picture of young adults in the LCMS and those who have left our church body.  LCMS Youth Ministry is currently working towards a larger research study for this spring and summer.  Congregations will be asked to give us insight into past Confirmation classes who are now young adults and what they know about the young people’s faith lives now.  In late spring, we will ask young adults previously and currently connected to the church to respond to a longer, more detailed survey.  In doing so, we hope that LCMS congregations can take a hold of pieces that may help them in retaining young people as they transition into adulthood.  These young people are critical to the future of the church, and listening to them can help us as they grow in their baptismal faith.