Reaching Gen Z with Church Planting

by Molly Williams

Events and Marketing Specialist, Stadia Church Planting

Christ followers have been called by God to reach the next generation with the Gospel. Psalm 78:1-7 is a call to action to “tell a future generation the praiseworthy acts of the Lord . . . so that they might put their confidence in God.”

This prompts the question: How does the church reach Gen Z?

Driven, Diverse, Accepting

Gen Z is the up-and-coming generation, those born between 1999 and 2015. The Barna Group conducted a study focusing on the pioneers of Gen Z, those who are 13 to 18 years old. By examining Barna’s study, we can begin to understand how the church should adapt to reach young people.

Barna found that more than any generation that came before them, Gen Zers are driven by their careers and success. Gen Z saw their parents and maybe even their older, millennial siblings struggle in the 2008-09 financial crisis. They are a generation showing to be pragmatic and driven in their career goals to avoid the struggle that they saw in the previous generation.

They are a generation of change; they are the most diverse generation in history. Gen Zers are willing to be friends with people different than them, more so than other generations because of their acceptance of others. Gen Z will surely show to be a powerful force in society as they come of age; however, right now they are in the trenches of discovering themselves and their identity: the teenage years.

Gen Zers are in a world of start-ups and crowdfunding, so church planting frames the church in a way they understand.

Through the study, Barna learned that Gen Z considers academic and professional achievements more central to their identity and important to becoming an adult than any other generation, who put family and religion as first and second. Gen Z listed those at fifth and sixth, respectively. Gen Z equates happiness with money and career stability more so than the generations before them. The majority of Gen Z is in middle and high school right now, and they are constantly facing the competitive and challenging nature of education. They are increasing in their aptitude for career and educational success; the concern is that young people are willing to be challenged more than the church is challenging them. This church has to keep up in order to gain their attention.

Another defining factor is that they are the most relationally ill-equipped generation. Gen Z is the first generation to be born into a world of screens. Not only have they used them all of their life, they’ve grown up with their parents—and even their grandparents—using them as well. Gen Z doesn’t know how to interact face-to-face at the capacity of the generations that came before.

The question remains: How does the church reach Gen Z?

Community, Cause, Relationships

I believe the answer is church planting. But not just any church planting; Gen Z needs church planting that lives and breathes vocational discipleship—a bridge between their work/school life and their spiritual life.

Gen Z has the biggest percentage of those who claim to be atheist, agnostic, or “none” than any generation before them, Barna discovered; so Christianity is decreasing among this generation, not increasing. Due to the post-Christian context of Gen Z, gone are the days of church planting without a vocational focus. Churches can no longer remain separated from the secular world, keeping their distance from secular career-driven and academic-driven environments. This generation is asking the question of faith vs. science more so than other generations, and both millennials and Gen Z are more likely to side with science than faith if asked to choose. The church must become equipped to answer tough questions

Church planting is vital to reaching Gen Z because of their environment, their desires, and their peers. Gen Zers are in a world of start-ups and crowdfunding, so church planting frames the church in a way they understand. Gen Z is lacking in face-to-face relationships; as mentioned they are the most relationally ill-equipped generation due to the nature of communication happening across a screen rather than across a table. Rarely will a church plant begin with the details of a building, a service order, or parking spaces. It will begin with a community, a cause, and relationships. Gen Z is thriving with passion for a cause for the community—this is why church planting is vital to reaching young people with the Gospel.

Gen Z is thriving with passion for a cause for the community—this is why church planting is vital to reaching young people with the Gospel.

Gen Z is a zealous, passionate, success-driven generation. Their acceptance of differences means they are more empathetic and open-minded than past generations. Imagine if Gen Zers were to leverage those gifts for the kingdom; there would be no stopping them!

Church planting is vital to Gen Z; however, Gen Z is also vital to church planting.

Church planters have the opportunity to reach those who would never walk into a church building. Church planting has already shown to be successful in expanding God’s Kingdom. With Gen Z it will not only be successful, it will be vital.

Church planters must hold tightly to the Lord’s call to reach young people so that they may know Him and His amazing grace. Stadia Church Planting is passionate about reaching the next generation through church planting, and we won’t stop until every child has a church.

If you feel like God may be calling you to church planting, begin the discovery process: stadiachurchplanting.org/plant

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