Reinterpreting the actions of emerging adults: searching for discipleship?

At her.meneutics, Kristen Scharold argues that some Christian emerging adults aren’t just wasting time. Instead, they may be figuring out what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus:

Admittedly, some of us are resistant to settling into the “traditional cycle” of adulthood, but is this because we are sloughing off responsibilities, or because we are waking up to a new set of responsibilities? For 20-somethings who are committed to Jesus, it could be the latter.

We are becoming increasingly ill-fitted categorical adults, but only within the narrow definition that adulthood means settling down — that is, tethering ourselves to romantic partners or to permanent homes. But if adulthood means accepting responsibility — regardless of whether we stay in one place, with the same career, or with the same people — then some of my peers aren’t emerging but have already arrived. They are taking Jesus’ call to discipleship seriously. They are embracing an expansive vision of adulthood, one that doesn’t necessarily involve getting a spouse and a mortgage, but more importantly means following Jesus, a call that sometimes requires reckless abandon (“and immediately they left their nets and followed him”), singleness (“there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven”), and financial insecurities (“sell all you have . . . and come follow me”).

Some Christian 20-somethings might look like their fellow emerging adults, but by remaining single, serving overseas, working for justice, creating cultural goods, and pursuing other unprecedented opportunities for gospel advancement and renewal, they may be responding most responsibly to the call of discipleship.

Scharold may be right: they likely are some Christians who are pursuing this. It would be frustrating to be someone who is trying to live a Godly life and instead is simply lumped in with supposedly lazy, shiftless emerging adults.

However, we don’t know how right she is – she cites no data. If this is based on anecdotal evidence (this is also the basis of many arguments against the behaviors of emerging adults), we have no idea how many Christian emerging adults are actually engaging in this behavior.

Of course, there is data to appeal to when exploring these questions. In the area of emerging adults and faith, check out Soul Searching and Souls in Transition. These books suggest while there are some emerging adults who can be classified as devoted to their faith, there are many others who are somewhere between no faith and devoted faith as they try to figure out how to make their lives their own.

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