Staying current on cultural issues that face Gen Z can be a daunting and ever changing challenge. One of the biggest cultural issues for Gen Z is change itself. One week it’s no more skinny jeans or side parts, and the next it’s no more using the laughing crying emoji. 😂😭 How can anyone who is not a Gen Zer keep up? While it is important to stay informed, it is even more important to ask the question:
Why does Gen Z want to change everything?
Gen Z has a profound desire to make real change in the world. As this generation ages and is starting to graduate from high school and college, they desire to make a name for themselves and define who they will be as a generation. They look back at millennials and see that advocacy took the passive form of “liking” something on Facebook or Instagram. But that is not nearly enough for Gen Z. They desire to see and make physical change in the world. This is great news for us as student ministry leaders. We have a generation ready and willing to go and make change.
So what does Gen Z have to offer? They have audacity—the audacity to want to change, and the drive to do the hard work to make that change a reality.
Our role in nurturing Kingdom expanding change
What does Gen Z need from us? They need us to have faithfulness. They need us to be faithful to preaching and teaching the gospel in every aspect of our lives. They need to hear it and see it day in and day out. Gen Z is gravitating toward brands and people who stay consistent and true to what they claim.
Gen Z does not want to be told how to do something, they want to figure it out for themselves. It is better for them to try and fail than be handed something completely done for them and just be a part of it. They want the responsibility and the challenge. Gen Z needs us as leaders to be the connectors to opportunities but not the event planners and organizers. Not only does Gen Z need to learn from their experiences, they need to create those experiences. This is vital!
Foster mutually desired involvement
What does that mean for student ministry leaders? This is the best possible news. We have students who desire to get involved and not sit on the sidelines! When a student gets passionate about the gospel, we should not stand in their way. Disciple them well and take their passion and help them figure out how to use it for the glory of God. If a student is passionate about gaming, band, sports, debate, the homeless, ending slavery, missions, or anything else, help them see how they can use that passion for the glory of God.
Coach them up and let them run
Instead of planning the next mission project or choosing where to serve, ask your students what they are passionate about. Use their passions to your advantage. Let them pick the who, what, and where. Even let them cast the vision for how this will make a gospel impact to the other students in your ministry. Your role as a leader is to be the coach that points them in the right direction if their vision starts to get skewed, not run the race for them. Gen Z does not want to be spectators, they want to create and run the race, and they will do so with a passion and ferocity that we have not seen before. The impact that Gen Z can have with the gospel message can be incredible if we remain faithful, disciple them well, and let them have the audacity to make change.
Nathan serves as Project Coordinator for Lifeway Students and has served in student ministry for 15 years in a variety of roles from volunteer leader and student pastor in the local church to working with student pastors at the associational level. “Producer Nathan” helps facilitate student ministry training through the podcast, Youth Ministry Booster, and other outlets.