Connecting with Gen Zers Through Justice
How does your church try to connect with Generation Z?
Do you emphasize Bible study and doctrinal instruction, stressing the importance of attendance in a Sunday school or small group setting where Gen Zers can learn the content of the Christian faith?
Do you stress worship and evangelism, attempting to create context where Gen Zers can encounter God, hear the gospel, and respond to the call to place faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord?
Do you plan fun fellowship opportunities, thinking it best to ensure Gen Zers they can have fun experiences and develop friendships?
Those are all good things, and in some instances they are effective.
But there is another approach: justice.
Contributing to The Baptist Standard, Grace Mitchell writes, “To the many churches who wish for young people in their congregations, I encourage you to consider how your church could become involved with social justice issues in your community, state, nation and world.”
Why? Mitchell writes that she observed Gen Zers care deeply about two values, faith and equality, while completing her education degree, and became convinced that churches should find ways to help students experience and express those values.
Mitchell made this discovery while offering an assignment in one of her classes to students. She provided the form of a human body, and each student was asked to create a heart that reflected something they love, hands that held things important to them, and feet that showed what they believed in. Faith and equality appeared most often in the student’s crafting of their feet.
For Mitchell, she realized this reflected what young people, including herself, are most looking for in a community. She concluded that “for me and many other young people, we often look for a place to serve.”
I don’t mean just service opportunities within the church. It is wonderful to serve the church family by volunteering to teach Sunday school or serving cookies in Vacation Bible School. Yet, this generation is more concerned with people outside the church who don’t feel they have a place at the table.
Generation Z has been named by some “the social justice generation.” They care deeply about equality for all people, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, background, country, socio-economic status or religion.
Many young people—including those of Generation Z—believe faith and equality for all should meet in the same place: the church. They believe the perfect group to address issues of inequality is a body of believers who love God and love their neighbors.
That’s a sound insight. When you consider your approach to reaching Generation Z, where are you creating space for them to work for justice? Where are you demonstrating the actions that align faithfully with your core beliefs about who God is and how God works salvifically through Jesus Christ?
As an added bonus, this is a cooperative venture. Not only might justice initiatives connect your congregation with younger generations, it might also strengthen your witness, gladden your worship, and broaden your fellowship, all to the glory of God.