The following excerpt was taken from “Discipling Gen Z,” Randy Ballard’s new book set to be released in June 2020.
Before we can disciple Generation Z, we must reach Generation Z. In the traditional sense, this is called evangelism. Some today refer to it as pre-discipleship. No matter what we call it, before we can mentor, teach, and serve with them – a conversion or change of heart must take place.
How do we reach Generation Z? Where do we begin?
In the past, many churches focused on various kinds of gimmicks, services, special days, guest personalities, gifts, rock concert kinds of worship bands, — whatever it took to get them to walk through their doors. With Millennials, churches did it with bright lights, fog machines, loud music, and free Starbucks. We have bad news for those churches, Gen Z will not be impressed.
In consulting with youth pastors and applying Gen Z research, here are the major issues we must address to have a chance in reaching Generation Z. Honestly, these are powerful! You do the following with a Gen Z young person, God will honor and bless your efforts, and give you success.
Address the “Why”
Early in the book we focused on the importance of answering the “Why.” Nonetheless, one last time let’s put it in bold and with exclamation points how important answering the why questions are.
We can’t forget Gen Z is post Christian. That’s easy for us boomers, busters, and possibly even Millennials to do. Most of Gen Z doesn’t know that absolute truth exists. Truth has always been relative and subjective to them, depending on the culture or context.
As a generation, they have never been taught or modeled the truth of scripture. It’s a foreign concept to them. God’s word says:
“The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to Him, and he cannot understand them.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, NKJV)
Most Gen Zers see nothing wrong with lying, sexual immorality, and homosexuality. Why would they? They have been raised in a world that says these behaviors are fine. Who was there to tell them that these deeds are sin and against God’s law? Certainly not their schools, nor the media, or the pop artists, and very few have been raised in church. And if they were among the few that went to church, how many of their pastors, priests, and teachers taught that lying and sexual immorality is sin and God judges such sin and rebellion?
So, they drank the Kool-Aid as a generation. They believed what the secular media, song artists, educators, and social media preached to them. Most likely, if you were raised in the 21st century in the average post Christian family – you would have too.
They didn’t think much about it when they saw Mom go into her bedroom, shut the door, and sleep with a man that wasn’t called dad or married to their mom. They didn’t know it was wrong. Many were raised in homes with pornography, alcoholism, profanity, and parents who abused drugs — and so were their friends. They saw it as normal on television and in the movies too. Why would they question it as sin or that God’s nature opposed these kinds of behaviors? How would they know?
A very high percentage of Gen Z grew up missing someone who cared about their soul. Someone to come alongside them. Someone with the truth of the gospel living inside of them. Someone to share with them why God says these things are wrong and that they are sinful behaviors. And it doesn’t stop there, someone to lovingly explain that such sinful deeds have consequences, earthly and eternal ones.
Finally, Gen Z needs someone not only to give them the why but most importantly model truth before them…they need to see godliness lived out. Because Gen Zers instinctively know in their heart of hearts that when someone believes something, their behaviors and lifestyle reflect that. And when Gen Z sees that, what follows is respect, trust, and a openness to God in their own lives. This all happens in the context of relationship.
The second issue to address is we must:
Engage them With Conversation
Talk to them, don’t be intimidated by them. Yes, they are smart. No, you aren’t cool (to them). Yes, you may feel awkward at times. But begin with prayer and the Holy Spirit will go before you. He will open the door to their hearts. This is the way God works.
They may act shocked or a little awkward when you speak to them. But most will respond favorably. Be consistent. Be sincere. Be caring. Let God’s Spirit work in them. Trust Him to do so. Let the Holy Spirit lead the dance, not you, and not them. Don’t be creepy, don’t be weird, or pushy. Trust the Holy Spirit who has put the love of God in you for Gen Z.