By Emma Danzey, Crosswalk.com
Reaching any new generation comes with its learning curves and growth. However, reaching a group of young people whose last year or two of high school was hit with a pandemic is another story. Right now, my husband and I are involved in an incredible team reaching college students at the local universities. Many of us are asking, “How can I reach out to the college students of today?”
Generation Z is in full swing and it is important that we note a few things to understand how to connect with them on a deeper level. In terms of Christian outreach, this is the first generation that is described as “post-Christian.” This does not mean there are no Christians; there are many wonderful, fervent young men and women who love the Lord. However, it means that their culture and their media does not show great support of faith.
Tessa Landrum from Kentucky Today shares, “They are 'the most ethnically diverse generation in American history.’ They are individualistic, lonely, and social justice oriented. They were raised on technology and their lives are often built around the online world. They are activists and volunteers who want to make an impact on the world. They were raised during the Great Recession and value financial stability. They are sexually fluid. And they account for 25.9% of the American population.’”
Landrum explains that some of the common barriers of Gen Z include questions on suffering and God’s existence, church hypocrisy, and injustices. She goes on to say, “If the church desires to reclaim Gen Z and reintegrate them into the Body of Christ, then we must educate our children and youth. We must actively seek out the lost and meet them where they are with their questions and concerns.”
What this tells me is that there may have never been a generation yet with such a capacity to love and create unity, but they are falling away because of misconceptions and clear answers that the Bible has to offer. How can we step into college ministry and share the truth in love to this generation and spur them on to become world changers?
1. Share the Gospel
It cannot be assumed that these are still the days of Billy Graham and Bill Bright. Many college students may have attended church, but they have may not had understanding of the gospel through a personal decision. It is our responsibility to tell them of salvation that only comes through Jesus.
We start with sin and Jesus because He is the Cornerstone. He is the only one who can save. We share in love and we entrust the Holy Spirit to do the rest. If we shy away because of fear of their response or try to water down the truth, we are only going to cause greater confusion and barriers for them.
2. Teach the Bible
1 Thessalonians 2:13 says, “When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.” There are pastors falling into a great trap, trying to leave out pieces of the Word of God. This is wrong. This will come with consequences. The Lord created the entire Bible as His written Word through those He chose to write it for Him. We are to teach the holiness, integrity, and historical accuracy of this book to everyone.
The Bible has the answer to all of Gen Z’s questions and our own. If they doubt the power of God’s Word and never read it for themselves, they are missing out on finding the answers to all of their questions. We can help provide encouragement and seek out the Scriptures together.
May we never neglect the power of prayer. When we are given the opportunity to talk to God and cry out on behalf of a generation, let’s take it. We need to stop picking fun at Generation Z and we need to pray for them instead. We need to ask for the Holy Spirit’s strength to rest upon them to be the light in this dark world.
Lord, we pray right now that you would be doing a new thing in Generation Z. Would you empower them with the truth of the gospel and provide confidence in you. We pray against doubts and hesitations. We pray for forgiving hearts for hypocrisy and injustices done by your people who are sinners. We pray for open hearts to following you completely and that you would show us how to best reach them. Amen.
4. Invite Them In
We need to have programs and outreach for college students and young professionals, to have a place in our churches and in our lives. If we neglect them because of their differences, we miss out on a generation. Remember that the future of our country depend on them. Be creative. Ask questions. Find the faithful few who want discipleship and have them help you understand how to reach this technological group. If they were not digital enough already, the pandemic only heightened this. Many of them desire real relationships in person, but need encouragement. Help them have opportunities to spend time with older generations and cultivate healthy mentorship.
If we miss a generation, it is a big deal. The Bible teaches of sharing the truth of God from generation to generation. Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.” If we are not proclaiming the works of Christ to Gen Z, then who is? This is our time running the race of faith and preparing to pass the torch. How are we actively pursuing relationships with those younger and in college? Do not give up when it is hard. Cling to the cross and share truth in love. Build community with young people and point them to the truth of the Bible. Pray for them and invite them into the privilege of being a part of God’s family.
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Emma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com