IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTICS TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT GENERATION Z

Those born between 1997 and 2012 are called Generation Z. Like other generations, they take what is passed down to them, mix it with their own historic and cultural experiences, and out comes their unique take on life and their contribution to the world.

Since both of my kids fall into this age group, I think it’s fun to learn more about it. There are nearly 60 million Gen Z-ers and they will have an impact on our world.

As church leaders, we should be confident to know that God’s word, the gospel message of Christ will relate to every generation – even to those unborn (Psalm 78). Even so, we would be wise to consider tweaking aspects of our church ministry to reach them in the most effective way.

Here are seven things church leaders need to understand about Generation Z:

1) The Church Must Connect With Digital Natives

This group has never not known screens and the digital world. They are considered digital natives. As a result of their online experiences, this age group lives with two identities: their real, human life and their online social presence. Not only are they comfortable in this, they know no other way. The pandemic helped the church cross a bridge to more tech-focused ministry. That will only need to grow to reach and stay connected with this age group. The double identity is already is having an impact. {Read: Why You Must Become Comfortable As A Virtual Minister].

2) The Church Must Address Fear and Anxiety Through Talk and Action

Fear and anxiety have always been part of the human condition, but have escalated for this generation. Because of safety issues in schools, constant negative news media, video game themes, general proliferation of news and stories through social media, and more, fears in this younger generation have created an epidemic for mental health crises. It’s good that the culture has become more comfortable with these terms, but it is bad that they are almost celebrated. The church must continue to offer the message of hope, courage, and strength found only in Christ. The church needs to help this generation focus on the eternal aspect of faith – the only way we can live confident, adventurous, and fearless lives is by trusting in God and being in the center of his will.

3) The Church Must Continue to Understand Life Balance

This generation wants more work/life balance. They want more time at home with family, doing things that really matter to them. On the positive side, this opens the door for more connection to the church. Never discount the amount of time a Gen Z-er can invest their gifts in the church. More work-from-home and flex time allow for more weekday drop-ins and ministry service. Never say “no” for a Gen Z-er. You may be surprised by the amount of bandwidth they have for things they are passionate about. On the flip side, even the most avid churchgoing members may have lower church attendance. Whether or not we agree, a couple times a month is considered highly connected. This group wants balance in life and they will adjust their calendars to attain it. The church can help them understand the rhythms of a disciple’s life and have significance at home and work.

4) The Church Can Help Gen Z Make Great Financial Decisions

The Gen Z generation will be very careful in making financial decisions. The church can help (and has been helping) people take responsible action with their money. Financial classes offered through your church can help teach and attract people. Pastors can also be aware that talking about money, on a more regular basis (more than a couple times per year), may help connect with this group who wants to get it right financially. [Read: 12 Money Quotes For Church Leaders]

5) The Church Must Communicate Through Phones

Gen Z-ers will never turn off their phones. They spend endless hours scrolling, connecting, reading, watching, listening, scheduling, engaging, and communicating on their phones – far more than any other medium available. It’s a good reason the church must learn to communicate through the phone. We use these services to make connections:

Whether you like it or not, announcements in church, bulletins, and print publications are going by the wayside – Emails, posts, and text messages are the way to go.

6) The Church Must Create Meaningful Volunteer Cultures

Gen Z-ers are likely to have “second jobs.” They will seek out meaningful volunteer opportunities and invest tons of time in them. Helping non-profits or leading community service groups will become part of their identities. These will top their lists of what they do in life. Church leaders need to create great volunteer cultures. This includes clear and documented entry points for volunteers, solid guidelines and expectations, informal and formal appreciation, and opportunities for volunteer teams to build community. [Free E-Book: Six Motivations Of Volunteers]

7) The Church Must Clearly Call This Generation to Follow Jesus

This is for all generations, especially Generation Z. Don’t let this number one priority of the church get buried amid a bunch of other stuff. Make sure you are calling people to follow Jesus. Keep working hard to create opportunities for discipleship, growth, prayer, and transformation in the name of Christ.

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