Gen Z is the largest generation on the planet. There are over 2 billion Gen Z kids.
And you and I are called by God to reach them. It's an urgent call. We must reach the next generation now...while their hearts are open and tender to God's Word.
Studies show, that unless things change, there will be between 28 million and 42 million kids, who will choose to leave the faith over the next 30 years. If that happens, it will be the largest, single generational spiritual loss in our country's history.
But it doesn't have to be that way. As ministry leaders, we have the opportunity to impact and reach the next generation for Jesus. I believe there are 4 things we must do if we're going to reach and disciple Gen Z. And the 4 things are found in God's Word. Here they are.
The man answered,"You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind." Luke 10:27
I believe it takes focusing on all 4 of these to change a young person's life. Let's break them down and make it applicable to your ministry.
#1 - We must help kids love Jesus with all their heart. A casual or half-hearted love will not sustain the next generation. We must help kids understand that Jesus wants to be the Lord of their life. It's first place or no place. Jesus wants all of their heart.
The word "heart" represents a person's affections. Head knowledge is not enough when it comes to following Jesus. The distance between a child's head and heart is a vast chasm. We must help them connect the two.
We must help kids know God rather than just knowing about God. See the difference? Kids that grow up to love Jesus will be the ones who develop a genuine, personal relationship with Him.
How can you help kids enter a genuine relationship with Jesus? It starts by clearly sharing the Gospel with them and giving them time to process the decision they are considering.
The church that is serious about helping the next generation will have a clear strategy for leading children to Christ and will involve the child's parents in the process.
I highly recommend Starting Point. It's a class that helps kids and parents understand what it means to follow Jesus. You can get it here.
One big measuring bar is giving. The Bible says in Matthew 6:21...
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
We must help kids understand that their treasure is a measuring stick for their love for Jesus. We must set the example in this area as church leaders and parents. The curriculum series Money Talks can help you with this. It is available at this link.
The average weekly church attender only gives 2 to 3% of his or her income. If they submit to the Lordship of Christ in their finances, their heart will be engaged as well.
#2 - We must help kids love Jesus with all their soul. While heart refers to what we love...soul refers to who we are. Our personality. Our identity. The originating place that guides how we live, the choices we make and the behavior and lifestyle that we adopt.
This can happen if we'll help kids see their identify in Christ and that He wants to be Lord of all of their decisions, choices and every day tasks.
The problem that arises if we don't teach them this is Jesus just becomes another compartment of their life that they pull out on Sunday morning and then put back in a quiet place so as not to disturb the rest of their life.
We must help kids see that Jesus doesn't just want a place in their life. Rather, He wants first place. He wants to be the hub of their life so that every thing centers around Him. He's at the center at school. He's at the center at home. He's at the center on the ball field. He's at the center at the swimming pool.
He doesn't want to just be another part of their life. He wants to be at the center of their life.
#3 - We must help kids love Jesus with all their strength. Busy. Busy. Busy. That's an accurate description of today's families. As kids grow up and enter their young adult years, their lives are so busy that church begins to interfer with with other activities. And when faced with the decision between the two, church gets left behind.
Or they have been so busy all week they don't have enough "strength" left to go to church and so they stay home and rest. Perhaps watching the service online.
I believe this has to do with what is important to families. You give your strength to what matters to you. Many families are giving their strength to activities, sports, lessons, games, etc. And when Sunday rolls around, they have no strength left to give to God or the church.
This sends a message to the next generation that says serving Jesus and going to church is something you do when it's convenient or you have nothing else to do.
We must teach kids, by word and example, that we should give our best strength to God, His Word and His church.
#4 - We must help kids love God with all their mind. This is a big one. I believe if we're going to reach the next generation, we have to help kids love God with their mind. We have to help them grasp in their mind, the reasons we believe what we believe.
Studies show that the vast majority of kids who are leaving the church have never done an intellectual (mind) study of why God's Word is true. They arrive in high school or college ill-equipped to answer the hard questions that are thrown at them.
If we're going to reach the next generation, we must help them grasp our historic beliefs. We must show them the data that proves the faith is real and rests upon a strong foundation.
We created the Prankster teaching series for this very reason. It helps kids face the hard questions about the Bible and our faith and gives them solid answers for why we believe what we believe. You can get more information about the series at this link.
Heart. Soul. Strength. Mind. 4 things we'll have to focus on if we're going to reach and keep the next generation.