Guest Editorial: College & Young Adult Ministry

From: Volume 5, Issue 1: Spring 2008, College & Young Adult Ministry Pages 7-10

Abstract

In this mini-theme issue of the Christian Education Journal, we explore the area of college and young adult ministry. While age 18 is the typical marker for the beginning of collegiate ministry, the precise age range indicated by “young adulthood” is currently a hotly contested topic among psychologists and sociologists. Psychologist Jeffrey Arnett (2000) has recently posited a new life stage—emerging adulthood—to span the years (roughly 18 to 25) between adolescence and true adult status. With the typical marks of adulthood—the completion of education, marriage, financial independence, and the beginning of a career—delayed both by social factors and personal choices, “emerging adults” experience a prolonged stage of exploration and self-definition that carries its own unique challenges and opportunities. “Having left the dependency of childhood and adolescence, and having not yet entered the enduring responsibilities that are normative in adulthood,” he notes, “emerging adults often explore a variety of possible life directions in love, work, and worldviews” (p. 469). On the other end of the age spectrum, sociologist Robert Wuthnow (2007) has recently suggested that young adulthood in America actually lasts into the early 40s. Delays in adult status and stability, combined with the extension of the life span, indicate that the middle of adult life does not occur until closer to age 50. In light of such research, perhaps it would make sense to consider college and young adult ministry as inclusive of individuals ranging from ages 18 to 40.

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