Discussion Thread: Rhythms for Transformational Discipleship with Emerging Adults

Rhythms for Transformational Discipleship with Emerging Adults


Young people who are transitioning from adolescence to adulthood belong to the life stage of emerging adulthood. Many of them are in their 20s and early 30s in terms of age. Emerging adulthood is associated with identity exploration. It is characterized by instability in purpose, spirituality, and relationships. The confusion that most emerging adults experience leads to lose interest in Christianity. The few who try to reconnect with the faith by seeking deeper discipleship are often discouraged by lack of proper mentorship. In their book, Richard Dunn and Jana Sundene provide overarching principles of guidance for the shepherds of emerging adults. The disciple-makers focus on three relational rhythms that can help to enhance these young adults’ spiritual transformation. These are: intentionality, discernment, and reflection.

Relational Rhythms for Spiritual Transformation

As a minister of the word of God, I find the relational rhythms to be relevant and applicable to my ministry. I can use them to guide parents on how they can effectively lead their children in the emerging adulthood age group to God.


According to Dunn and Sundene, disciple-makers need to practice discernment in the process of helping young adults to develop and attain spiritual maturity.[1] Discernment in this case entails understanding not only their growth frontiers, but also potential strongholds. It is stated in the Biblical book of 2 Corinthians 10: 4 that “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” Some of the helpful practices that parents can use as disciple-makers to spiritually mentor the emerging adults include praying for them, fasting together, reading and memorizing the scripture with them, listening to their needs, and spending time with them.


Majority of the emerging adults belong to the Millennial generation. Technology and better education have given this generation great freedom of exploration. This freedom makes them ambitious and confident people who are achievement-oriented. Despite this, these young people often lack purpose or intentionality.[2] It is due to this reason that many of them find no meaning in Christianity and religion in general. Disciple-makers such as parents have the task of restoring intentionality among the emerging adults. They must boldly confront the young people’s unwillingness to submit to the will of God. It is important to tell them the truth so that they can connect with the wisdom of God.  This divine wisdom begins with the fear of God as stated in the book of Proverbs 9:10. The young adults need this kind of wisdom in order to have intentionality in their lives.  


The relationship between disciple-makers and the emerging adults will never be effective and complete without the element of reflection. Reflection is perhaps the most important of all the three relational rhythms since it is also intentional.[3] There are various strategies that disciple-makers can use to maintain a reflective relationship with the young adults they are mentoring. For instance, parents should evaluate and assess their movement towards spiritual life by asking them relevant questions. These include questions pertaining to changes they have experienced in their Christian journey, obstacles, and future expectations. Parents can also map the growth of the young adults by looking at their growth based on Christ-life postures. For example, they can assess their growth in terms of their faith, trust in God, and love of God.


The task of making disciples is an important piece of work in every generation. It is in line with the Great Commission given to use by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew 28: 19. Dunn and Sundene propose that disciple-making among emerging adults needs a discerning, reflective, and intentional relationship. Thus, the authors are of the view that parents and other disciple-makers need to embrace a mentoring-based kind of discipleship approach. This will enable the young adults to become disciples.


Dunn, Richard R. and Jana L. Sundene. Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults: Life-Giving Rhythms for Spiritual Transformation. Downers Grove:IVP Books, 2012.

[1]Richard R. Dunn and Jana L. Sundene. Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults: Life-Giving Rhythms for Spiritual Transformation (IVP Books, 2012), 71.  

[2]Dunn and Sundene, 103.

[3]Dunn and Sundene, 192.

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