This page is predominantly about work with school-aged children.

Examples

A café church for 18-30s in Newcastle

A church building facing closure, in an area where 83% of the local community was aged between 18 and 30, was renovated into a café space, with the aim of establishing a fresh expression of church for young adults with no experience of church. The renovated space provides a warm, relaxing 'lounge' for those in multiple occupancy dwellings who may not have much communal space, and the venue is open for chat, performance, art and study every weekday afternoon/evening.

Alongside other congregations, the team are growing a fresh expression of church for young adults which gathers on a Wednesday night, but also goes into the community offering to clear up front gardens and remove graffiti.

A missional community of young adults in Newport, South Wales

The Lab was initiated by the Bishop of Monmouth to develop a church community of students and young adults in Newport who would otherwise not have contact with a traditional parish church. It originally met in a pub, but now gathers in a church hall in the city centre, as well as sharing a weekly community meal at which people take it in turns to cook and serve each other.

A year in, The Lab began to grow a residential community of young adults in an empty vicarage provided by the diocese, on a deprived estate on the edge of Newport. The aim was for members of the community to invest their time in the local community and build relationships with its young people. The focus has been on joining in and serving practically wherever the opportunity arises, rather than putting on big events. The community has now grown from the original four, to include a second 'Lab' house and several gap year and placement students to work full-time with the Lab.

A youth fresh expression of church growing older

Sorted, in Bradford, started as a 'skateboarding church'. However, as the young people who became part of it grew older, they lost interest in skateboarding. Rather than losing interest in these young people, what became 'Sorted 1' was allowed to grow with them (with Sorted 2 and Sorted 3 started to continue to engage new young people in the original age group) and is now exploring what it means to be a young adult fresh expression of church.

The community currently gather on a Sunday night for a social get-together, Monday night for a worship event and Wednesday night for small group Bible discussions. They are also beginnign to explore what young adult mission looks like in their context.

A place of shelter and diversity in the Mumbles, Swansea

A church in the Mumbles recognised that it was haemorrhaging young adults out of the top end of its very successful youth work, so decided to invest in work amongst that age group. Sunday gatherings rotate between alternative/creative prayer and meditation, discussion and debate over current affairs, a good hearty feast and the best live acoustic music. Based in a local café, the community is organic and fluid with a regular core of around 20, but up to 60 coming along for some of the larger evenings.

A successful coffee shop also home to a young adult church community in Brick Lane, London

Baptist minister Paul Unsworth had a heart for those in their 20s and 30s and, inspired by seeing thousands of people visiting the Brick Lane market - felt called to be a Christian presence right at the heart of those crowds. The community coffee shop he started is now a respected part of the local community and invests its profits into local community projects and other causes. Hugely complimented coffee, food, customer service and general atmosphere draw people in and Paul is exploring how to build community and relationship through intellectual, creative and social events - a regular programme of events includes a 'bring and share' supper club, origami, a book club, live music and poetry, drawing on the gifts and passions of those who are drawn to the coffee shop. A Wednesday night gathering for worship, teaching and discussion now has 40 regular attenders.

A dual ministry to students and young adults in Cumbria

Matthew Firth is chaplain to the University of Cumbria and minister of The Way church for young adults. Now joined by a full-time intern, they are exploring how to balance the solid base of students with the non-student young adults they are coming into contact with too. 

Things to keep in mind

In 2013, Beth Keith was commissioned by the Fresh Expressions Young Adults Round Table to carry out a research project into fresh expressions of church amongst young adults. She interviewed twelve fresh expressions of church amongst young adults and her conclusions were published as authentic faith: fresh expressions of church amongst young adults. These conclusions where then tested at two gatherings of young adult fresh expression leaders.

Amongst her findings where that there are a number of common values and realities seen across most churches involved in the study, which shaped their practice, their faith and how the community organised itself:

Community
Food, socials and hospitality were all key components of church life, rather than additional activities.

Authenticity

Honesty, integrity and 'realness' were emphasised over 'rightness', with church being described as journeying together, working out faith, together, in the messiness of life - rather than the imparting of truth.

Doubt

An openness to express doubt, to question, to deconstruct, was essential across most of the young adult churches, allowing members to develop and own their vision and ethos.

Spirituality

The emotive or 'felt' nature of a spiritual encounter with God was emphasised - meaning that creative and experiential worship, or 'spaces' where people could experience God, where highly valued.

Change

Change was an ongoing reality for all of the fresh expressions of church amongst young adults interviewed.

Whilst these realities where shared across all of the fresh expressions of church interviewed, how they were worked out in practice varied hugely.

Beth's research also identified five different types of fresh expression of church and made seven recommendations.

Types of young adult church

  • Church planting hubs
  • Youth church grown up
  • De-constructed church
  • Church on the margins
  • Context shaped church

Recommendations

  • The dynamics of these five types of young adult church should be recognised, understood and encouraged by the wider Church.
  • Communal spaces, such as larger vicarages or manses, should be made available for young adult ministry.
  • The rise of small sacramental communities needs further understanding, endorsing and supporting.
  • More should be done to encourage open and supportive connections between the wider church and young adult fresh expressions of church.
  • Church planting hubs should be valued by the wider Church.
  • Those starting fresh expressions of church for young people should make provision in time for the subsequent development of a young adult church.
  • Regional groupings of churches should create young adult specialists (in the same way they might have youth or family and children workers).

More information on all of these are available in the research report.

Resources