What Generation Z Needs from Us
CHRIS chI | OCTOBER 3, 2018 | 7 MIN READ
In our church circles, we always talk about training the new generation of leaders. Well, Generation Z is here, registering for VBS programs, joining youth groups, and now, attending our college groups or adult ministries. And they desperately need the Gospel.
Who is Gen Z?
Social scientists say Gen Z was born somewhere between 1999 and 2015 This generation is unique because its members had access to digital technology their whole lives. In addition, most of them were born after 9/11, which was an event that hugely impacted the American psyche.
Although technology and culture has drastically changed, the church must continue to create a strong Gospel-centered culture to reach Gen Z within its context. So how do we strengthen our churches as well as empower parents to minister to them?
1. Create a Bible-Literate Community
Our young generation needs to be equipped in the Word so that they can speak intelligently to the world’s culture and beliefs.
For example, according to the Barna Institute, a well-respected polling company that provides data on faith in America, only 28 percent of Generation Z teens (13-19) said that "science and the Bible are complementary, while 45 percent of Boomers and 36 percent of Generation X agreed with that statement.
We need to teach our children and youth about the sufficiency and inerrancy of the Word of God. Not only will they then be able to speak confidently about the Gospel, but also they will strengthen their resolve to own their faith on a deeper level.
2. Create a Christ-Centered Identity
Gen Z faces new challenges when it comes to bullying. Cyberbullying has become frequent with the rise of the internet, and we’ve all read tragic stories of children becoming depressed or even committing suicide because people bullied them online.
The Gospel tells Gen Z members that when they put their faith in him, they are children of God who are loved eternally by the Heavenly Father. When God defines who they are, they can be totally secure in this identity. They do not need to search elsewhere for unconditional acceptance, true joy, and total fulfillment.
3. Create a Gospel-Centered Community
Many youth in Gen Z are lonely. Although they are more connected than ever through social media, they lack face-to-face interactions with friends and authentic relationships.
In the article, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation,” researcher Jean M. Twenge writes, “Teens who visit social-networking sites every day but see their friends in person less frequently are the most likely to agree with the statements ‘A lot of times I feel lonely,’ ‘I often feel left out of things,’ and ‘I often wish I had more good friends.’
The Gospel frees Gen Z from the lies of this world that they are always left out, disconnected, and alone. They need to hear the truth that when they put their faith in Christ, they are part of the family of God, which will heal and encourage them. The church provides a safe environment where sins can be confessed and successes can be celebrated.
4. Create a Gospel-Driven Purpose
Gen Z desires to be part of something big and meaningful. What more meaning is there than to be used by God for HIS mission to go out and make disciples? (Matthew 28:19) They can and should be challenged with the mission to reach their peers with the saving news of the Gospel.
What role do I play as a parent?
So as the church creates this culture, what are the parents’ roles? There must be a partnership between the church and the home. There are three things that I suggest.
1. Bring Them to Church
Sounds simple, right? But the children of Gen Z are so busy and bombarded with packed schedules, including Sundays.
Parents, it is so tempting to involve your child in everything under the sun, and we know you’re busy and tired too. There will be times when you will have to decide whether you and your family will attend a church function or another activity (or just stay home and nap).
As parents, we need to model for our children what matters. Make church attendance a priority, on Sundays and for midweek activities. Ultimately, you are molding and shaping your child’s ability to make these important choices when they are older. Make church a priority.
2. Be a Model of Gospel-Centered Life
Here is an anonymous Gen Z-er relating what that generation needs from us as parents:
“What we need is to see the church loving one another. We need to see Christians of all generations (especially older, wiser generations) in covenant together remaining faithful in an unfaithful culture. We need to see the church standing up for biblical truth and not compromising their convictions. We need the church going out to reach the lost and bringing them in to grow and be fed in the context of the community. What we need is to see the church being the church.”
We know the church is not perfect. But as parents, we can model what it means to confess our sins to one another and have true reconciliation. We can volunteer to serve our local community and follow the Scriptures. As parents model a gospel-centered life in the church and in the home, children will also come to realize the importance of the truth and put it into practice.
3. Be a Prayer Warrior
We need to be diligent in our prayer efforts for Gen Z. Pray for them and pray with them. Parents, pastors, and youth directors need to be on their knees interceding for their sheep. Then, we need to teach our children and students to pray and rely on God. Without prayer, Gen Z will create a culture that conforms to the world, and not on the solid rock of Jesus Christ, who is our ultimate identity, purpose, and security.
Generation Z has unique characteristics that we must address with the Gospel. God has called our churches and families to teach this generation so that the members will grow to love Him and his people. Then they can become leaders and bring the next generation, whoever they might be, to Christ and his kingdom.
Chris Chi is the family life pastor at Living Hope Community Church. He is a graduate of UCI (in Mathematics) and Westminster Theological Seminary. He is passionate about the gospel and making Him known. He is married to Gina and has two boys, Jonathan and Ethan.