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Helping Gen Z Own Their Faith

By Kent Ingle | Posted In Ministry Tools

In a digital world, the negativity and despair amid the pandemic can seem inescapable. Moments like these remind us we need to equip the next generation to take ownership of their faith.

Recent months have brought unprecedented challenges for everyone. But for Generation Z (those born after 1996), 2020 may have been especially jarring.

On the economic front, for example, the majority of them were too young to remember the financial crisis of 2008. For the most part, they grew up with a strong economy and low unemployment rate. The pandemic has brought new waves of uncertainty at a time when many are facing important decisions about their future.

Will this generation cling to faith in troubled times? A recent survey from Pew Research Center found that most teens identify as evangelical if their parents affiliate with an evangelical denomination. And teens aged 13 to 17 who identify as evangelical are more religious than others by traditional measures.

However, Pew also reported that teens were less likely than their parents to pray daily, believe God with absolute certainty, and consider their faith important. It seems that many young people view faith through the lens of what their parents believe, not what they personally live.

During the current climate, we have to encourage this next generation to build a strong foundation of faith by dedicating time to prayer, reading Scripture, and interacting with a community of believers.

In Matthew 7:24-25, Jesus reminds us we must put faith into action: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

Will this generation cling to faith in troubled times?

Jesus goes on to make the point that when we don’t have a solid baseline of faith, our lives can be shaken. In verses 26-27, He says, “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

There has to be a foundation for the next generation to stand on when the going gets tough. As they attend college or engage in the marketplace, these young people need to be able to explain what they believe and why they believe it.

Scripture reading needs to become a part of their daily lives at an early age. The Pew survey found that most teens attend religious services with their families, but few regularly engage in Bible reading as a family. How would it change the lives of young people if we encouraged and equipped families to read and discuss God’s Word together?

Gen Z also needs a safe place to ask questions. Technology is a part of this generation’s DNA. Z’s were born into a world of information and search engines, and they are looking for answers.

This is a generation who is searching for the truth. If we aren’t providing them with opportunities to discuss cultural issues, they will look for answers elsewhere. We have to create an environment where young people can ask questions, particularly the uncomfortable ones.

Ask these young adults and teenagers why they are passionate about certain issues. And don’t be afraid to let them ask you questions that might challenge your faith.

Even though they are digital natives, Gen Z craves face-to-face interaction. At the college level, this generation benefits from being mentored in small group settings. These groups provide a safe space for Z’s to engage in difficult conversations with mentors who are further along in their walk with Christ, as well as people who are in a similar place in their faith journey.

The key is to point young people to the Bible as the source of truth. We need to prioritize Scripture if we want to see Gen Z grow and mature in their faith.

This generation is already engaging in church through relationships with their parents. We have an opportunity to help them own their faith and develop a life-giving relationship with Jesus.