A Guide to Reaching Gen Z (part 1)

Today, we're going to start a 3 part series that will give you an in-depth look at Gen Z (today's kids).

Just as a missionary studies the language, customs and traditions of a people group they are trying to reach, so we need to learn all we can about Gen Z.

Gen Z is comprised of people who were born after the Millennials (from 1995 to present).  They are currently age 19 & under. They currently make 25.9% of the population

1. They have grown up in a post 911 world and felt some of the pressure their parents felt during the recession.  The recession personally affected over 70% of Americans and the impact of it was felt all the way down to Gen Z as they watched their parents struggle through it.

Idea: Gen Z kids feel financial pressure.  As the church, we must come alongside them and teach them Biblical and practical ways to manage their money.  I recommend Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey.  If they can grasp and put into practice, the principles Dave shares, it can relieve much of the pressure they feel.  For the younger members of Gen Z, I recommend the teaching series called "Money Talks."  It is a great resource to teach the younger members of Gen Z while you are teaching the older members of Gen Z about money.  The Money Talks series is available at this link

2. Many of them live in multi-generational households.  This is caused by retired grandparents moving in with their kids and Millennials coming back home to live with their parents as well. 

Idea: Look for ways to include the entire family.  Make parents and grandparents a strategic part of your ministry.  What events can you do to bring these families together at church?  What parenting curriculum and resources can you provide to help Boomers, Gen X and Millennial parents and grandparents be the spiritual leaders of the home?

3.  Pushing back against the helicopter parenting many grew up with, Gen Z is self-directed.  They seek answers first and foremost from Google.

IdeaRather than dictating answers, give Gen Z room to discover and grapple with the truths of God's Word.  Point them in the right direction, help guide when needed and give them ownership of their spiritual growth.

This also moves into determining the best way to help Gen Z learn about God and His Word.  Rather than putting a talking head in front of them for long periods of time (by long I mean more than 5 minutes), give Gen Z directions to the truth and let them discover it through hands-on, interactive learning experiences and discussions.  Yes you will be there to guide them along the way, but with a coaching strategy rather than a commander posture.

4.  They are diverse.  Many come from multi-racial households.  This year, caucasian children will decrease by 1.5% while hispanic children will grow by 7.6% in the next 5 years.

Idea: Take a look at your congregation this weekend.  Is there diversity?  Our church should be a reflection of all the ethnic groups in our city.  Do you present diversity?  Is diversity reflected in your church's print pieces?  Your congregation?  Your worship team?  Your staff?  If not, identify the barriers that are preventing diversity and remove them.

 Churches that are diverse will grow in a Gen Z world.

5.  What worries Gen Z the most as they move into adulthood?
  • cost of living
  • the economy
  • wars around the world
  • terrorism
  • parents' job security
  • crime in their town
  • government leadership
  • cyber crime
Idea: Look at the list above.  The fear factors you see should be topics you address with them and teach about.  Help them identify and overcome the underlying factors causing the fear.  And in a practical way, make sure they are safe when at your church.  Safety and security is a must if you want to reach Gen Z kids and their Millennial parents.  If they don't feel safe while at your church, they won't be back. 

6.  Gen Z kids are drawn toward self-employment.  Entrepreneurship is part of their DNA.  They are growing up in a DIY culture.  61% want to be an entrepreneur and 72% want to start their own business.

Idea: Self-employed mindset.  Become a facilitator more than a communicator.  Kids learn best not by being "sermonized" for 15 minutes, but rather through hands-on, interactive, experiential learning.  Give them opportunities to serve as well.  Empower them and release them to do the work of the ministry.  Balance telling them what to do with telling them how to do it.  Give them space to guide their own learning experience.

Tomorrow we will talk about how Gen Z wants to change the world and how they multi-task across a variety of screens.  See you there!

*many of the facts and research for this article come from S & H research.