The American church is on a disastrous trajectory when it comes to passing our faith to the next generation.
On a survey, more Gen Z would select “none/no religious affiliation” than Christian. Of those who claim Christianity, only a fraction go to church. In his book Meet Generation Z, James Emery White writes that only 10% of Gen Z are engaged with a church community.
Current church leaders are burning out. According to Barna, 46% of pastors under 45 are seriously considering quitting. The majority of Bible colleges and seminaries across the country are struggling. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do the math.
We are left asking the question, “Will the generation that comes after us be one that does not know the Lord or the work He has done?”
Instead of trying to get Gen Z to attend church, we should focus our energy on equipping young people for ministry. Gen Z is the best-positioned generation for reaching Gen Z with the gospel.
Here are four steps to get started:
PRAY for Kingdom Workers.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” - Matthew 9:37-38
Jesus doesn’t say, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few…so work harder!” He said we need more workers. How do we get more workers? We pray.
I’m not trying to over-spiritualize; I’m trying to do what Jesus told us to do. Stop complaining that you don’t have the right people, and start praying. Remember that God is “Lord of the Harvest.” It’s His harvest. They are His workers. We need to cry out for God to call people into ministry.
SEE Potential Leaders.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. - Acts 4:13
Stop looking for the perfect leaders, and start seeing potential leaders God has already given you. There is a shortage of ministry leaders because we look for the ideal person right out of the box. But the best leaders are grown, not bought.
Look at your church. Look at your youth group. See the God-given gifts and passions these people have. They are diamonds in the rough.
When Jesus looked at the tax collectors and sinners, he saw something everyone else missed. Stop looking for perfect and start looking for ordinary, untrained men and women. The primary qualification you are looking for is someone who has been with Jesus.
SPEAK Encouraging Words.
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” - Matthew 16:18
Words have power. Too often, older leaders speak discouragement about young people. Be careful not to demonize another generation’s differences—“Kids these days and their TikTok dances!”
When you travel, you might hear the Department of Homeland security announcement, “If you see something, say something.” We must begin seeing with prophetic eyes and speaking words of calling over the next generation.
The Apostle Peter constantly made mistakes. But when he made the true confession about Christ, Jesus capitalized and spoke an incredible calling over Peter’s life. Your words will give someone the courage to follow God’s calling.
INVEST in the Next Generation.
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. - Matthew 10:1
We have to spend time with young people. I know it can seem like a bad investment or waste time. But I can tell you there are few things more important than the church’s future. Who are you spending time with consistently under the age of 26?
Give young people opportunities to lead. Jesus gave away the keys to the kingdom to a group of teenagers and twenty-somethings. Who are you giving the keys to your church?
One of the best ways to engage someone in the church is to let them lead. Remember, Jesus didn’t come to start a program; he came to start a mission. Gen Z won’t do everything how we would, and that’s ok.
I know the future looks bleak. I believe these are times when revival breaks out. If we do what God is asking us to do. And we trust that God will do what only He can do. Then we can have confidence that Jesus will build His church and even the gates of hell will not overcome it.
Who invested in your walk with God? Let me know in the comments!
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