Modern technology influences young adults as they consider faith and church.
Ed: How would you describe the state of Christianity and the church among emerging adults—18 to 29-year-olds—today? What are their biggest questions, concerns, or motivations?
Brian: I am grateful there is much research on this and the speakers at the April conference are well prepared to address this.
I will highlight the broader technology and social media angle first. I would describe the use of social media by emerging adults as a mix of excitement and resignation. A vast majority of emerging adults participate. They describe learning about relationships they already have, connecting with friends and family, seeing pictures, sharing jokes.
They find out about events and news through social media. They search for romantic partners through social media.
On the other side, they can articulate some of the downsides of this use including a lack of focus, not spending time with people (just their feeds), and the conflict that can arise in social media. Not participating means missing key connections and knowledge that others can access. Current emerging adults have known and participated in social media all of their lives and will continue to use social media as they age beyond this life stage.
The emerging adults of today are immersed in social media, technology, and other forms of media and they bring this with them as they consider faith and church.
This reminds me of reading one research interview with an older emerging adult who asked whether what young people used to find in religious groups is now supplied by social media and the Internet.
What do Christians and churches offer that is distinctive or helpful compared to all of the other images and impressions they are receiving through new and old media?