Engaging with a “Missing” Generation

posted in: WeConnect Updates | 0

Looking around at your church congregation, how many Gen Z and millennials are present? If your church is like many, there seems to be a whole generation missing.

Concerned? You’re not alone.

A few weeks ago, a summit was convened for church and parachurch leaders who have seen this trend and are seeking to build bridges between Gen Z and the local church in New England. Sponsored by the Day Foundation and hosted by The Journey church in Worcester, MA, the goal of the summit is “to move toward substantive action steps to help jumpstart Gen Z and discipleship efforts in New England in 2022.”

We realized that to connect with the younger generations, we first needed to hear from them. A panel of Gen Z young adults (including our very own by design intern, Tori Hammond) shared about their perceptions of the current culture, the Church as a whole, and their thoughts on the obstacles and opportunities they face. Their insights are enlightening.

  • They are not looking for flashy church. They are looking for truth and the meat of the Gospel.
  • Mental health is a big concern in their generation. Instead of merely parroting what the rest of the culture is saying (emphasizing self-care), we need to offer the truth of God and substantive support from the local church.
  • They are looking to be valued in the church. They are willing to serve but want to be serving alongside in a variety of positions, not just doing the jobs reserved for younger people. They want to be trained for the work of ministry.
  • They want to connect with the older generation. When asked what these relationships might look like, the words “listening,” “mentoring,” “training,” “life-on-life,” and “serving alongside” were mentioned multiple times.

These important concepts are key to understanding these generations and reaching them in a meaningful way. They are open to connecting with the older generation, and they have given us the tools we need to build those bridges.

These generations are not missing. They’re right in front of us, and they want to engage.

During the summit, I had the opportunity to take part in the breakout session entitled, “Equipping & Mobilizing the Church: How can we help churches recognize this opportunity and respond well?” I was able to share about what by design has been doing in this area over the last few years. It was exciting to see that what is needed to bridge the gap to this generation is exactly what we’ve been doing!

  • Sharing the results of our research. We interviewed dozens of young women who were raised in the church to determine the factors in their decision to retain their faith or jettison it. (Spoiler: Hearing the true gospel and mentoring are two huge factors, as confirmed by the Gen Z panel.)
  • Publishing two blog series, “Millennial Voices” and “BridgeGen,” devoted entirely to these important topics and authored largely by young women.
  • Actively encouraging growth in ministry training and leadership within these generations. At by design, young women take active leadership roles as our bloggers, event planners, and workshop teachers.
  • Holding free Round Table Mentoring Events at churches all around New England. At these events, we share WHY it’s important to connect with the upcoming generations, and then HOW to do it well by taking into consideration the cultural differences between generations.

The summit was an encouraging, enlightening experience, and we are making plans to meet again. Please pray for us as we take concrete steps towards helping New England churches connect with these precious generations.

If you would like to bring a Round Table Mentoring Event to your church, please message us. We’d love to connect with you!

Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep loving.

Kristi, for WeConnect

All of our past updates are available at WeConnect’s Update Archive.