5 Questions For Connecting With Generation Z
MediaPost notes five ways Gen Zers are distinguishable from Millennials, offering a few guidelines on how messaging should adjust based on demographics. I’ll summarize. Gen Zers are:
It is noted in the article above that Generation Z will one day overtake Millennials as the world’s largest cohort. Gen Z is not the largest population group today, but it will be in the future. Connect now, and the future is bright.
MediaPost is focused on marketing and ways businesses can use insights about different demographic groups to strengthen their brand.
But the church is not a business, and does not operate in the same way.
Churches are responsible for faithful witness, are stewards of a good news message about Jesus Christ, and are called to invite all people to become disciples of Jesus, to follow him. We’re not marketers. But we do have a message and a mandate to reach as many people as possible.
Demographic research and wisdom from the world of business can inform the church so we can understand the world today and better connect with our neighbors. But anything gleaned must be prayerfully considered and theologically measured.
MediaPost has observed a few truths about Gen Z. These observations can be helpful for ministry leaders. Gen Z is cause oriented, inclusive, goal driven, tactile, and visual. Let’s take their observations, apply them to the context of ministry, and ask a few questions.
What are concrete, tangible ways your congregation addresses the needs of your neighborhood and of the world at large? Are you feeding the hungry? Providing coats for those in need during the winter? Building a house for someone through Habitat for Humanity or in partnership with a mission agency? Are you highlighting these efforts? How?
Is your congregation open to people of all ages, races, gender, and other markers of identity or status? Inclusivity does not entail abandoning your distinctives. Your tradition may have specific teachings on sexuality or gender, for instance. If so, how do you communicate welcome to people with whom you disagree, showing love to all people, regardless of differences? How do you display humility, grace, and conviction?
What are the goals or aspirations of Gen Zers, and how can your congregation help them along the path? Here’s a hint: ask them. You will hear familiar longings, like the desire to be a good person, manage money well, develop relationships, etc. But if you stand before your congregation and say, “We asked Gen Z about their goals,” you’re far more likely to have their attention. And when you offer biblical counsel and wisdom on how to reach these goals, they’re more likely to take notes.
How is your congregation helping Gen Zers experience life as a Christian? As noted by MediaPost, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear Gen Zers prefer in-store shopping experiences where they can interact with products. Online can only show you so much. How is your congregation telling the gospel story through beauty (which can be both simple and ornate, in music, architecture, and more)? How are your people inviting Gen Zers to “taste and see that the Lord is good” in worship, service, and fellowship? When is the last time you had a great potluck or common meal? Good preaching is helpful, but foster rich fellowship and direct action. Help Gen Zers see that the spiritual life is to be lived.
Are you pairing words with images in your communication pieces in compelling and appropriate ways? Here is the key quote from Marisa Allen: “This generation is highly visual and increasingly communicates in images (from emojis to Instagram). As far as we’ve come as a civilization, Gen Z communicates in hieroglyphics.” Need help with this? Ask for some honest feedback from a member of Gen Z.
Means of communication change, as do ways people receive information. Ask these questions, evaluate what you are doing, and adjust as needed to effectively connect with Gen Zers.