the shape of leadership

Four Things Gen Z Is Looking for in a Church

What to know about this generation

Kent Ingle on January 6, 2020

Generation Z is a generation unlike any other. Born after 1996 (by Pew Research Center’s definition), the members of Gen Z are truly digital natives. They’ve scarcely known a day without Instagram or Facebook. And they have always had an answer from Google at their fingertips.

Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in American history, a 2018 Pew Research Center report revealed.

They are also religiously diverse. Only 4% of Generation Z have a biblical worldview, according to Barna Group. Compared to older generations, the members of this generation are more than twice as likely to identify as atheists. Barna refers to them as a “truly post-Christian generation.”

Many members of Gen Z grew up without strong spiritual traditions and have had little exposure to church. However, they are deeply hungry for true connection, and some are beginning to explore faith communities. Here are four things these young people are looking for in a church:

Quality Over Quantity

Numerous evangelical churches focus on packing their calendars with events. However, today’s young people are wary of marketing and productions — especially when it comes to church. They are far more interested in the quality of the faith and values they see in a congregation than the quantity of options the church offers.

Many members of Gen Z grew up without strong spiritual traditions and have had little exposure to church.

Relationship Over Religion

Gen Z’s beliefs and opinions are diverse and varied. Many reject moral absolutes, which can make evangelism challenging. Yet they do value relationships, and this can open doors to life-changing faith conversations.

Impact Over Image

Yes, Gen Z will naturally be more drawn to churches with a presence on social media. But they are also looking for real-life social connectedness.

Is your church actively involved in philanthropic work in your city? This generation wants to make a difference, and they are eager to join a team of people who genuinely care about them and others.

Community Over Conformity

Like millennials, Gen Z deeply values individuality. They also have great compassion for others. Gen Z wants to be valued for who they are and appreciated for the unique skills, passion and insight they bring to the table.

Gen Z lives in a world where they can obtain immediate answers to many of their questions. Nevertheless, some of their most important questions remain unanswered.

Ultimately, what this generation is looking for is a place where they can ask and process these questions without judgment or penalty. They are looking for a safe, supportive environment where they can sort out their faith and doubts.

Gen Z will bring new questions, new ideas and new doubts to our churches, simply because they have been raised in a different world than many of us were. While ministering to this generation may pose some unique challenges, pointing them to Jesus through our lives as well as our words will no doubt deepen our own faith.

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