the shape of leadership

Onboarding Gen Z

Five things young team members want

Kent Ingle on September 12, 2022

By the end of 2022, Generation Z — the most racially and ethnically diverse generation to date — is expected to surpass 20.2% of the U.S. population. To put this in perspective, millennials make up the current largest group at 21.8% of the population.

As we look to recruit the next set of leaders in our churches and organizations, the pool we select from will be increasingly filled with Gen Z applicants.

Therefore, it is important we begin to familiarize ourselves with what Gen Zers expect from a potential employer in the ministry. 

Below are five qualities Gen Zers look for in their future church employment.


A Shared Set of Values

As a generation becoming known for wanting to change the world, Gen Z truly cares about workplace emphasis on social responsibility.

According to a Gen Z Spotlight Report from Washington State University’s Carson College of Business (CCB), 70% of Gen Z employees want to work for an organization whose values align with their own.

Gen Zers want to see the churches they work for truly care about underserved populations – like Christ did.

There are countless moments in Scripture where Jesus calls us to provide for the less fortunate, and the Church should be leading the charge.

Matthew 25:37-40 says, “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”


Meaningful Work

Like the standards they hold for churches and organizations, Gen Zers want their positions to hold weight. In a recruiting study by Yello, job duties and responsibilities were ranked higher for Gen Z than any other generation in terms of accepting or rejecting a job offer.

Not only do Gen Z members want to genuinely enjoy their roles, but they also want the work to fulfill a greater purpose or need for those around them. And what cause is more important than leading others to Christ?

In Mark 16:15, Jesus commands the disciples to go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation. This mandate applies to all believers.

When Gen Zers feel work in the ministry is meaningful, they will be encouraged that their efforts are making a difference and feel a sense of purpose.


Face-to-Face Relationships

Although digital natives, Gen Zers want face-to-face relationships prioritized among church staff members. Personal connections are vital for Gen Z, especially after the pandemic.

Within the next few years, the amount of Gen Zers entering the ministry will only continue to increase.

Many Gen Zers found themselves feeling lonely and isolated when Sunday services and Bible studies went remote. For some, their pastors and mentors appeared as impersonal and unreachable identities on a screen. As a result, Gen Z members desire to see a genuine effort from their leaders in building and establishing a relationship.

The Bible frequently emphasizes the importance of believers encouraging one another. Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Setting aside the time to guide younger team members in their journeys and growth in Christ will give them the boost they need to truly thrive. And in return, they will be able to help others in the same way.


Opportunities for Growth

Gen Z is often characterized as being forward-thinking. CCB’s Gen Z Spotlight Report found that younger workers are much more concerned about the future of their careers than older colleagues.

If Gen Zers are unable to visualize your church as a place where they can further develop the expanse of their roles, they are less likely to see a future there. They crave environments that allow them the freedom to dream big and pursue new territories.

Members of Gen Z do not want to feel trapped in one area of responsibility. They hope their job descriptions can evolve with time to include more opportunities.

The Bible speaks to faithful service leading to growth in time: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

When Gen Zers feel confident there is room to grow in your ministry, they will feel empowered and supported to do all that Christ has for them. 


Emphasis on Mental Health

Although they have a strong work ethic and are willing to go the extra mile, Gen Z members also see the significance in making time for rest. They search for churches that create the space for their staff members to maintain and focus on mental health.

According to Deloitte’s Gen Z and Millennial survey, 46% of Gen Z employees reported feeling burned out due to their work culture. In addition, a good work/life balance was ranked as the leading reason for where they chose to work. 

Ministry may require an around-the-clock commitment, but it is crucial there are days set aside in the week for time off.

Gen Zers aren’t the only ones who prioritize downtime. The Bible frequently mentions the importance of rest. It is such a fundamental aspect of God’s law, that it is emphasized within the Ten Commandments.

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work” (Exodus 20:9-10).


Within the next few years, the amount of Gen Zers entering the ministry will only continue to increase. Rather than being resistant or skeptical of the changes they may bring — look for ways to learn from them.

Having a wide range of ages from varying backgrounds all working together within a unified cause can offer many benefits. The diversity in perspectives and experiences will bring new opportunities to a church or organization that may have never been thought possible.

As leaders, welcoming Gen Zers onto our teams is the perfect chance to discover fresh ways to reach different people groups and demographics or new methods for ministering to them.

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