3 Strategies to Help Your Church Reach Gen Z


When you think of the church's future in the hands of the next generation, do you feel fearful or hopeful?

I know as Christians, we shouldn't live in fear. But if you search online articles about Gen Z, you'll quickly see them labeled as the least-religious generation yet. What if the next generation fails to accept the call to carry on God's work?

You already know that God can—and will—carry on His mission. And StartCHURCH has your back. We're going to provide a strong foundation for equipping you to reach Gen Z, as well as the No. 1 most important tip for effectively ministering to them.

Who is Gen Z?

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At a Glance

— Generation Z is roughly 6-24 years old in 2021.

— They are known as "digital natives" because very few can recall life without a smartphone.

— Having grown up in the Great Recession and now coming of age in a pandemic, they tend to be realists driven by financial stability.

— They are the most diverse generation yet.

— They have a strong drive toward fixing systemic issues in society.

So you want to reach this generation for Jesus. But how do you reach this "unchurched" generation?

Jesus' ministry didn't exactly take place in a church setting. He ministered to people in their daily environments. And I think that's the key to reaching this group. Jesus took to the streets and delivered the love of God in tangible ways that were relevant to a hurting people. So let's employ a similar methodology.

3 Strategies to Reach Gen Z

1. Demonstrate God in authenticity. Authenticity is key. Gen Z is rather good at discerning real from fake, and they really need to see that something is genuine to trust it. They trust people they know and social influencers over picture-perfect paid performers in ads.

This is good news for the church! After all, God called us in our brokenness and lavished his mercy on us! Because of His incredible grace, we have no reason to hide, fake or pretend. We can live in the light. So if you want to reach Gen Z, put away those fake smiles, and don't be afraid to have real and raw conversations.

2. Demonstrate God in community. Despite being "digital natives," Gen Z self-reports they prefer face-to-face human interaction to communicating through technology. And research suggests that they feel very isolated. Again, this is excellent news for the church. We have the best solution to isolation: community with God and other believers.

So if a generation is craving community, let's provide it. Let's give them an arena for authentic relationships to thrive. Let's set the stage for deep conversations and invite Gen Z to converse rather than trying to lead the discussion ourselves. For years, the church has struggled with congregants who would rather spectate than participate, but this generation is eager to participate.

There are plenty of ways to build community, so don't wait. A critical example is making sure your congregants have more options than viewing a streamed or recorded service. If you're limited to screens because of the pandemic, Gen Z will do better in small-group Zoom calls where they can engage in the dialogue. Or, at least use the chat feature to engage other participants, rather than viewing the service in isolation from others.

3. Demonstrate God in ethics. Gen Z is extremely socially aware and dedicated to making an impact. Once again, this is great news for the church. An unbelieving Gen Zer already shares many of the same values as Christians, so we can easily demonstrate that current issues do matter to God and that partnering with God in prayer and ministry is the most effective way to make an impact.

How do you demonstrate that God cares about what Gen Z cares about? Well, when you see a cause that aligns with God's heart, mobilize and provide a way for them to participate. For a great example, read about OneRace, an incredible nonprofit taking on social injustice.

The No. 1 Tip for Effectiveness with Gen Z

Listen to them. If you rely solely on articles like this, you'll misunderstand this generation. Just because they're young, don't assume they can't speak for themselves. In fact, they're competent and well-spoken. And thanks to social media platforms, they are well-practiced in expressing themselves.

Get to know some Gen Zers. Hang out with them, and find out what their world is like. Ask open questions. What are their goals, fears and motivations? What do they like and dislike? How do they spend their time?

"Wait, is this a trap? I thought you were going to tell me how to reach this generation, not just tell me to talk to them and figure it out myself!"

Actually, listening is the tip. When you listen, you demonstrate that you genuinely care. You build the relationships that allow for ministry. And you build the trust required for them to perceive you as a guiding influence. Listening is the foundation for ministry to this generation.

Hope for the Future

After reading about the possibilities for reaching this generation, I hope that you find yourself brimming with bright ideas for ministry. Because the truth is: The generation labeled as the least religious is hungry for God and very spiritually receptive.

For the original article, visit startchurch.com.

Laura Archambault is a front-end developer who helps manage the StartCHURCH website. In everything she does, she is passionate about the leaders and ministry workers who use our website. She is driven to make sure the digital StartCHURCH experience brings joy and ease to your God-given work.

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