post christian

Networks vs Neighborhoods: another way the Church is missing the young adult population

On many levels, the American Church is moving to the way of the "house church", and it has a great momentum to reach many people. We are seeing many Christians learn what it might look like to be followers of Christ as they love and serve their neighborhoods. We are seeing more and more large churches OF small groups instead of churches WITH small groups. The outreach of the church is now being put in the hands of the church as opposed to the church leaders alone. Smaller groups and house churches are turning their eyes and hearts toward their neighborhoods in order to learn what the incarnational gospel might yield in comparison to the attraction gospel that has been the primary model utilized by the American Church to this point.

While this excites me to see where the American Church is moving the gospel, I fear it STILL misses the mark in reaching a college and young adult population. The move into neighborhoods will certainly serve to reach a postmodern, post-Christian society and culture, but let's not forget that post modernity and post-Christianity is NOT a generation.

This means while college students and young adults most often fall into the postmodern, post-Christian mindset, to reach a demographic I love and my heart breaks for, there is yet another reality to be mindful of.

College students and most young adults don't really have neighborhoods they live in for long. This is a pretty transient period of life where they live in different homes from month to month. This is a time of life lived in semesters as opposed to years. The rest of life is lived outside the house elsewhere. Home is where the couch is!

The sense of neighborhood is lost on the college student and young adult. So a house church mentality works well if your population has a house or spends any significant time in the house they have.

Now again, I love the house church model, and I think the American Church needs to continue moving in that direction for sure, bu my question, as a college pastor, is how do you move this model for a demographic without neighborhoods?

The answer lies in what college students and young adults DO have. Networks!

Thought the idea of a neighborhood may be lost, there is a strong sense of network in this demographic. We still frequent different areas such as coffee shops, bars, campuses, and clubs. These places have become different networks each person is connected to.

When you frequent those places, you become 'a regular'. Once I became a regular at Tupelo Coffee House, I started to recognize the other regulars. Once I began to recognize the other regulars, I began to notice them outside the coffee shop in other networks I am connected to. I recently recognized a Tupelo barista when I was walking around the monthly art walk downtown.

The whole interest of our networks is watching them overlap. "I didn't know you came here to this coffee shop!"

In order to begin really reaching the college and young adult population, we need to move from the neighborhoods to the networks. House churches need to be in coffee shops and bars and clubs and various other networks.

In a generation that has not yet settled down into neighborhoods, you have to be a neighbor in their networks.

Pumpin' the wattage into your cottage

I was asked this morning to be on the radio this Thursday to speak about college and young adult ministry. It is a great opportunity to spread the word about a demographic the church knows less and less how to reach and particularly about what it does look like.

We have already briefly discussed the reality that this is a group that is rapidly giving up on church, faith, etc. That reality drives a lot of us who doing what we can to reach out to this group.

They have asked that I prepare about 15 questions they can ask of me.


If you are involved in college and young adult ministry: If you were were given this opportunity, what would you want to be sure you addressed? If you were given an open radio mic to speak about the ministry you love to and for college students and young adults, what would you want to broadcast to many people who do not know how to reach this 'people group' we love?

If you are NOT involved in college and young adult ministry: Do you ever read this blog or hear other things from me and wonder "What the heck is he doing anyway?" If you could ask a college pastor anything about reaching this 'postmodern', 'post-Christian', generation-X-Y-Z, etc., what would you want to ask? Do you just wonder what I actually do at the coffee shop every day? What questions do you have?

I will be on air this Thursday, so I need your questions as soon as possible. You can comment them here at Ragamuffin Ramblings.

You can email them to

You can tweet me your questions @ragamuffinpc