As I was bustling down the hallway, on a busy Sunday morning, she strolled by me. The young woman who had been on my mind for the last week was right in front of me. Calling her by name, I asked if she was interested in meeting with me. Without a moment’s hesitation she agreed to come to my office later in the week.
On Wednesday morning, she sat on the other side of my office, twisting a napkin in her hands. Nervous ,but also she seemed excited to update me on her life. She talked about the older people, people my age, in our congregation who encouraged her on a regular basis. This had made our church her home.
Staring at her lap, she then said, “but I don’t feel our church makes a space for other people my age.”
Together we investigated some possible solutions to her dilemma. How can we make our church a welcome place for your generation, Gen Z, who wrestles with anxiety and aspirations?
Gen Z is coming of age in a time of uncertainty. They are a highly talented group of young adults who recognize they possess little control over much of what happens in the world.
That must feel frustrating, but our generations can find the balance together.
Part of life’s journey is to draw you closer to where you belong. The church should be a safe place for you to explore your ideas and share your feelings. A place where correction draws you closer to God; not stifles your spiritual curiosity. You want to belong to God’s people, but how do you find the place for you?
Here are some strategies that might work for you.
- Like the young woman in my office, look for a place that sees you. Ask your friends for places that they feel welcomed, heard, and supported.
- Do you know someone who lives the Gospel in their day-to-day life? Find out where they attend and follow them there.
- I know it is difficult but seek out an older person you admire to mentor you. This is going against your generation’s norm, but you can do it. I’m giving you permission to ask.
To you who are the older generations, are you making a space for young people?
This quote from Fuller Youth Institute caught my attention:
“I’m tired of the church answering questions I’m not asking.” – anonymous Gen Zer
To answer the right questions, we need to know this generation. Not just understanding statistics but face to face relationships that edify both of us. They want to know you, but they are waiting for you to make the first move. It all starts with a hello, remembering their name, and inviting them in.
One young woman said it this way, “I want a safe place where I can ask the hard questions.”
If we are answering the wrong questions, we will lose our relevancy. Honor the Gospel and make a space for them to continue to deepen their discipleship in Jesus Christ.
A ministry can be built that is a ministry run by young people for young people. Partnering with older mentors, it will become a place where they can investigate the beauty of the Gospel and passionately serve the people around them.
This will be healthy and productive for both generations.