In our recent magazine, we shared how Power to Change – Students is working in the lives of Generation Z. This new generation, comprised of those born starting in the mid 1990s, is often and accurately called “post-Christian”. That means that many of them have grown up without hearing about Christianity.
P2C-Students is actively working to engage this generation on campus, but they aren’t the only ones who can make a difference.
Here are some things you can do as you interact with Gen Z in your everyday life.
1. Show, don’t tell.
Gen Z needs to see Christianity in action. This generation isn’t convinced by empty words. They want to see how this faith makes a difference in lives and witness its impact on the world. The more we talk about doing great things without backing it up, the less they believe us when they see sin in the world. Show them the work you do in your church, or the homeless shelter you volunteer at. Better yet, invite them to join you.
2. Support them in making positive change.
They want to make the world a better place. This generation grew up learning about 9/11 in elementary school. They were raised with clear examples of terrorism, fear, and corruption in the world. They can see these problems, and are passionate about fixing them. If you want to connect with them, show them that you care about what they want to accomplish and will support them in getting there.
3. Share powerful stories.
Their methods of telling stories may be different than yours (and yes, those strange hieroglyphic texts and 6 second videos they create are indeed stories), but this generation still craves a good narrative. Give them one. Share the story of how God reached you. Invite them in with the impact Jesus has made on your life.
4. Understand their strong filters.
That 8 second time span everyone’s talking about might be misunderstood. This generation faces thousands of sources fighting for their attention, and they’re not going to waste time on something that doesn’t immediately interest them. They’ll give 8 seconds to something. If it hasn’t made them want to spend more, they’ve moved on.
This also applies to strong claims about what’s true. Gen Z has grown up with the internet in their pocket. Since they can check literally anything at a second’s notice, they have no time for anything that might be fake. They want genuine truths, and are more likely to respect you if you give that to them. This generation craves connection—just look at all the social platforms they are on—but they need someone who’s going to be real with them.
5. Respect their environmental ideals.
They are concerned about what we are doing to the planet. They value companies that are “green” and promote sustainable lifestyles. Support them in this. Don’t think they’re silly or talk down to them because of it. Create an environment where they can see you doing good things and want to join you. A meaningful conversation with them can be ruined by forgetting to recycle your Starbucks cup. Little things count.
6. Share what you’re for, not what you’re against.
Gen Z craves acceptance. They’ve heard about what the church supposedly hates and may think we won’t be tolerant of them. Share what you stand for instead of only talking about what you’re against. We need to show this new generation who we truly are, not the “anti-everything” group we’re often viewed as.
7. Welcome their questions.
A lot of these kids haven’t grown up with knowledge of Christianity. But they’re curious, especially when they encounter something radical and new. If they haven’t heard of Christianity before, invite them to ask questions. Don’t make assumptions about what they know about your faith. Start at the beginning. If they ask a question you don’t know the answer to, be honest with them. Don’t pretend you have it all together. Be real, show them we’re you’re at, and invite them to join you on your journey.
Generation Z needs to hear the truth. Let’s reach them in ways they’ll understand.