Are We Losing Gen Z?

Gen Z.  They are the next generation.  They are our children and grandchildren.  They sit in our church seats on Sunday.  They participate in our camps, VBS, mid-week programs and special events.

How effectively are we reaching them?  Are we successfully seeing them develop a faith foundation that will last for a lifetime?  Are we truly equipping their parents to influence them spiritually?

In some cases we are.  But if you pull back and look at the big picture, you'll see we have a lot of work to do.   Ponder these facts with me about the current 17 to 19-year-old college students.  These are the kids we've been trying to reach for the last few years.
  • The number of college students with no religious affiliation has tripled in the last 30 years, from 10 percent in 1986 to 31 percent in 2016.
  • Over the same period, the number who attended religious services dropped from 85 percent to 69 percent.
  • The retreat from religion started around 1990 and accelerates, averaging almost 1 percentage point per year.
  • Mainstream Protestant denominations, including Baptists, has went from 17% to 7%.  Methodists have gone from 9% to 3%. 
  • 8.5% are agnostic and 8% are atheist. 
These trends provide a snapshot of the current generation of young adults.  They also provide a preview of rapid secularization in the U.S. over the next 30 years.  If this holds true, we are danger of losing Gen Z.  

The church is struggling to reach Gen Z.  There are bright pockets of churches that are being effective and getting the job done, but as a whole we are floundering.  What's it going to take to reach Gen Z?  To reverse this trend and see kids and families walk to Jesus rather than away from Him?

We must be willing to change what's not working.   Gen Zer's are not the same as the Silent Generation.  Gen Zer's are not the same as Boomers.  Gen Zer's are not even the same as Gen Xer's.  Carrying on like it's still 1980 will not work.  Playing music from the 1960's won't work.  Continuing to use flannel-graph in a virtual reality world won't work.  Churches that bury their heads in the sand and continue to do ministry like they've always done it will continue to see their congregations grey and eventually fade away.  We must take a hard, honest look at our methods and be willing to adjust what needs adjusting.

We must be willing to work what never changes.  Though methods must change, the message must not.  The Gospel still works, if we will work it.  We must renew our passion for sharing the Gospel with those inside and outside of the walls of the church.  It's time to stop arguing over non-essentials and start seeing our baptistries being used again.  It's time to focus on the main thing and make it the main thing...sharing the Gospel.
We must be willing to learn from churches that are reaching Gen Z.  Those churches that are effectively reaching and disciplining kids and families...find out what they are doing.  Find out how they are doing it.  Go visit them.  This doesn't mean you copy everything they are doing, but it does mean you study the principles they are using and adapt and tweak what will work in your context. In this post, I share a list of children's ministries that are effectively reaching Gen Z.
We must help kids develop a deep faith foundation that can stand strong in the midst of a culture that deteriorates faith.  The sad fact is 78% of people who now claim no religion, actually grew up in church.  And a big percentage of them say they simply don't believe anymore.  Why is this?  We have taught kids a shallow faith that simply can't stand in today's secular culture.  We must be strategic in what we teach kids.  This series is a good place to start.
We must make Gen Z a top priority in our churches.  We have a Biblical mandate to reach and teach the next generation.  Ministry for the next generation must be brought out of the shadows and into the spotlight in churches.  We have a small window of time to reach Gen Z that we cannot miss.  In this seminar, I share more reasons why children's ministry must be a priority in our churches.

Gen Z needs you to share the Gospel with them.  Gen Z needs you to teach them how to be passionate followers of Jesus.  Like never before, Gen Z needs you to show them you care about them.

We don't have to lose Gen Z!