Loving Gen Z Well
Today, I want to introduce my friend Trudy Lonesky. She is using her strong voice to speak up for the next generation, covering topics such as the importance of our children standing confident in their identity in Christ, social media, worldly influences, and living our faith out loud.
She has a great message here for women of every age to grow our Kingdom influence with the next generation. Please welcome Trudy!
Gen Z (youth born between 1997 and 2012) is said to be the most unchurched generation to date with only have 4% of their population adopting a biblical worldview. Atheism among this generation has doubled in comparison to their millennial cohorts.
Friends, what can we do? How do we share the love of Jesus with this next generation so longingly searching for a Savior?
I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. However, my parents did the next best thing. Each Sunday as my dad would fill the bed of his truck with our garbage that had accumulated for the week and headed to the “dump” he would drop my brother and I off at a tiny, quaint church in our hometown. A quarter in hand for the offering, my brother and I were embraced by that sweet little community of believers.
As we entered the church building our last name, the label on our clothing, our grades on our report card, or our performance on the field no longer mattered. We were loved. All judgment of the world was null and void. We were accepted with a smile and a hug by the elders and families of the church. We suddenly became their family.
Friends, how do we love that big? How do we ensure that the youth that enter our buildings leave shook, wrecked, encountered by Jesus?
Leave the Judging for Jesus
We set aside judgment and expectations of these individuals. It’s not about what family they come from, how they perform at school, what car they arrived in, or how they are dressed. We see each and every child as His fearfully and wonderfully made creation, image bearers of God.
Let Them Be Seen
The next generation is growing up in a time when most people spend their days with their heads in their phones. Eye contact is few and far between, but that connection is so very important for their developing brain. Let them know they are seen. They matter. You care.
Love Them BIG
We never know what the youth entering the doors of our church might be going through. In a post pandemic world, it might be hard to determine if it’s safe to hug or give a fist bump or a handshake. I say, hug them anyway. You might very well be the only person who has done so in a very long time.
That big, warm smile that you possess might just be the only smile they have met for the day. There’s something about a stranger’s smile that says, “I see you and you are loved.” Sounds super simple but please don’t underestimate the power of a smile. Try it. Spread joy like confetti.
Invite Them In
Whether that be for youth camp, youth group, a church outing or even for dinner with your family; help them feel included. It’s been said that the average youth need at least 6-8 faithful adults in their circle to help them navigate and stay within the faith. Will you be that person for someone?
We welcome Jesus when we welcome a child. That right there is heavy, enlightening, and emboldening. Will you be the rescuer that shares the Savior with a generation so longingly seeking for one? The One? When they are in your presence do they feel the presence of God?
Matthew 18:1-5 NIV says, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’“
It was there in that small town, Maine church that I would be saved the summer of my freshman year of college. It was that church where I encountered Jesus in very real, tangible, authentic ways. It was that church where I felt the Holy Spirit’s presence for the first time. It was because of the experiences I had there that cultivated and nurtured the radical faith I have today.
Friends of the church, we need you. The next generation needs you. You don’t have to be a parent or a church leader to pour into our youth. I pray that not another child leaves our buildings without experiencing the fullness of Jesus. That God will open our eyes and our hearts to the needs of the children entering our churches. We’ve got kingdom work to do, sweet friends. Let’s be on mission to save the next generation in the name of Jesus.
God girl. Wife. Mom of 4. Author of Reclaim Her Heart: Empowering Moms to Raise Teen Daughters with Kingdom Identity in a World of Conformity. Host of the Kingdom Mamas podcast. Speaker. On mission to cultivate authentic faith in the next generation. Find out more about Trudy and her resources at trudylonesky.com, or order her newly-released book Reclaim Her Heart today!
Thank you, Trudy! The work you are doing, and challenging us to do, is the work of Jesus.
Lord, help us to see those who will never come into a church building. Show us how to love and show them You right where they are. Amen
Yes and AMEN, Lynn! God places people and youth before us. I pray that we SEE them when they are in our presence. Love the work you are doing as well, friend!
Great ideas… but please don’t hug them right off the bat. I’ve been teaching high school for 25 years and lately there are a preponderance of kids with “touch issues.” These kids grew up with sexual abuse awareness at its peak and any touch, especially one as invasive as a hug, can “trigger” them in the wrong way. Start with a good handshake… most of them have no idea how to do that anyway.
This is wise advice. Hugs come in time when there’s love and trust. (‘Cause there’s nothing like a good hug!)
Very true! Thank you for your insight, friend. ?