One-on-One with Beth Seversen on ‘Not Done Yet’

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How can the Church reach and keep unchurched emerging adults?

Ed: “Authenticity” seems to be a recurring theme throughout your book. Based on your research, how would you define the “authenticity” that emerging adults are seeking, as you assert in your book? How does this authenticity cross generational boundaries?

Beth: Young adults need to know that we’re for real. Believe it or not my research shows us they are on the outside looking in at us through our virtual windows checking our churches out. No matter the reason that draws them, they are peeking in at our webpages, watching our online services, and critiquing our message—both our silent and our spoken messages. They are evaluating if our Christian faith is real and if our Christian community—the church—is good. Just the fact that we’re a part of an institution for some causes their goodness radar to go off.

Young adults have moral compasses. They may not be set on the same “true north” as yours or mine, but they are skeptical of people who: suggest everyone vote the same way, or reject people based on their sexual identities, are trying to sell something, or who are immersed in consumerism, and say they’re not antiracist but are blind to their own racial bias. Some young adults go so far as to reject Christianity for being immoral for lots of good reasons.

By becoming friends with young adults across generational borders, myths and stereotypes can be deconstructed and what is true and real can be experienced through genuine Christian community, transparency, and authenticity.

Ed: In your book, you mention a psychological phenomenon called “identity procrastination,” in which isolation leads to delayed identity formation in young adults. How can …

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