Katelyn Beaty of Christianity Today recently spoke with Christian Smith about his new book, Souls in Transition, which is a follow-up to his ground-breaking book, Soul Searching. In it, Smith suggests that "the church can root emerging adults in Christ at a time when they are tempted to float away." When asked what churches can do to connect with these emerging adults during these unsettling years (18-29+) Smith says,
We are sociologists, not church consultants. But in terms of the implications of our work for churches, the two key words are engagement and relationships. It can't just be programs or classes or handing them over to the youth pastor. Real change happens in relationships, and that takes active engagement.
And he adds,
it probably will require more creative thinking about context—I don't even want to say programs—but ways to form communities and places where people can connect and work out common interests beyond the standard worship service and Sunday school.
More generally, churches need to realize that American demographics and the American family are changing. If they are set up to minister primarily to intact nuclear families, there are whole, growing segments of the population they are not hitting.