Mar 9, 2019

A Guide to Reaching Gen Z (part 2)

Last week we started a 3 part series about how to reach Gen Z for Christ.  In case you missed yesterday's article, it's available at this link.

Lets continue today and talk about more relevant factors you need to know and apply if you want to reach Gen Z.

1. They want to change the world.  26% are volunteering somewhere.  They are determined to make a difference and impact the world for good.

Idea: Time to get Gen Z involved in serving.  They want to make a difference and you have one of the best opportunities for them to do just that.  Go all out to get Gen Z involved and serving in your ministry. 

We know that serving is a key factor in seeing kids stick with their faith into adulthood.  It can generate faithfulness, purpose and passion in the lives of Gen Z kids. 

Partner with your youth pastor to enlist students to serve.  And when student ministry pastors / leaders understand the significance of students serving, they are more likely to move their program and events away from Sunday morning so students can serve.  In other words, students serve on Sunday morning and then attend their programs and events on Sunday afternoon / evening or on Wednesday night.

Remember to balance the serving opportunities between weekly and annually.  In other words, send them on big missions trips at least once a year.  And also involve them in serving weekly so they can establish a pattern of week-by-week faithfulness in a local church.

Another note on this - when asking Gen Z to serve in your children's ministry, invite them to a vision.  Explain the impact they can make by serving in your ministry.  Never invite them to a need - instead, invite them to an opportunity to make a difference and have influence.

2. They prefer online training. 85% have researched online for a project.  This makes sense since they have grown up as digital, online natives.  The web is where they go for most of their answers.

Idea:  Provide online training for every area of your ministry.  Make the videos short and concise (2-3 minutes max).  Use the videos to provide practical training that will set Gen Z up for success as they serve.

There are multiple sources where you can post your training videos for free and then send your team the link. Two of the most popular are YouTube and Vimeo.

3. They will be highly educated compared to previous generations.  1 in 2 will be university educated compared to 1 in 3 for Millennials and 1 in 4 for Gen X.  As you teach them God's Word, ways and world-view, make sure you take them deeper into the reasons why you believe the what.

Idea: It is critical that we teach them "why" we believe the Bible is God's Word.  They are looking for deeper answers rather than just the same old same old church sayings.  Be prepared to respond with solid Biblical answers.  Better yet, take them on deeper dives into God's Word as they search for answers.

We created the 4 week series called "Pranksters" just for that reason.  Kids examine passages that atheists say are contradictions and gives them solid answers for skeptics.

4. They multi-task across multiple technologies.  The TV is on.  They are using their phone to connect with people on Facebook.  At the same time they are listening to music that is streaming online.  They are also viewing a video on a tablet.  And they are doing homework on a desktop.

Idea:  Encourage Gen Z to share Jesus with others through the many technologies they have access to.  Yes the Gospel is powerful and impactful no matter the method you are using to share it.  5 screens = 5 opportunities to share Jesus with others.

5. Their attention spans continue to shrink.  They are being raised on "snack media."  An example - they communicate in quick, abbreviated words and phrases like "LOL" or "BTW" or "Thx."  Getting and holding their attention can be challenging.

Idea:  The key is honoring their attention span.  Don't try to teach for 30 minutes.  Break up your lessons in smaller segments.  Break it up by teaching for 5 minutes and then doing an activity for 5 minutes and then come back to teaching again for 5 minutes, etc.

By doing this you are resetting their internal clock and will hold their attention.

6. They communicate best with images and video.   They are a visual generation.  They hear with their eyes.  For them, a picture truly is worth a thousand words.

Idea:  Use a lot of images in your lessons.  They will be drawn to the images and will stay engaged with your lesson.

7. They spend a lot of time with technology.  As mentioned in point #2, they prefer to learn and communicate through technology.  41% spend 3 hours per day engaged with a computer screen.  This is compared to only 22% ten years ago.

Idea:  Generate or tap into online content that will engage their attention and help them become deeper followers of Christ. 

8.  They are less active than previous generations.   66% say video games are their main source of entertainment.  Gaming has replaced outdoor activities.  Rather than climbing trees and playing on a swing set or playing a game of kickball, they are sitting in front of a screen.  

Idea:  When they show up at your church on Sunday, use physical, challenging games in your lesson. They will engage with this strategy since it's something they haven't done all week for the most part. 

Monday, we will wrap up this series with some final ideas on how to connect with and engage Gen Z.  See you then!

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