As 2024 sets in, I look forward to seeing all the Lord will do in this new year. Particularly, I am excited for a new year of ministry to our college students at OpenDoor Church where I serve as the College Director. As I prepare for this new ministry year, I can’t help but notice the pressing need for actively engaging in evangelism and discipleship of Gen-Z. I hope that you will consider with me how we can faithfully minister to the next generation in the upcoming year. Here are four ways you can practically minister to Gen-Z this year:
1. Learn Their Names
This may seem overly simplistic, but consider for a moment the value of being known by name. Gen-Z grew up in the dawn of the digital age and in their developing years, they have experienced an unprecedented amount of technological advancement. While Gen-Z is more connected than ever, many wrestle with immense feelings of loneliness. Pastor, we have an opportunity to show the next generation that the church is the place where they can be fully known and fully loved. We have a Savior who knows each of his sheep by name, and not even one will be snatched from his hand (John 10:27-28). Make the effort to greet the younger folks by name each Sunday. Remember things about their life, and ask them how things are going. Pray for them by name and let them know you are praying for them regularly. While these acts may seem small, they communicate care, concern, and provide a sense of belonging to a generation that is still wrestling with their place in the world.
2. Prioritize In-Person Communication
Continuing a similar line of thought from the first point, another simple way to minister to Gen-Z is to prioritize in-person communication. For many Gen-Z’s, most of their communication takes place over the Internet, so in-person communication is highly valuable. Pastor, don’t underestimate the value of a personal invite to your church or next event. Furthermore, take the time to check in over coffee, go on a short walk, or catch up in the church lobby.
In this social media age, authentic, in-person relationships will become the catalyst for discipleship of the next generation.
3. Invite Them into your Life
“Having called his men, Jesus made a practice of being with them. This was the essence of His training program—just letting His disciples follow Him.” -Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, page 37.
In his excellent book, The Master of Plan of Evangelism, Robert Coleman reminds us that Jesus’ method of discipleship was quite simple. It wasn’t centered on programs, initiatives, or big events. Instead, Jesus simply invited his disciples to observe and imitate his devoted life that he modeled before them. The next generation needs to see the power of the gospel at work in our daily lives. Just as the disciples learned from spending time with Jesus, this generation needs real life examples of godly living to imitate.
4. Give Them Opportunities to Lead
While Jesus modeled faithful ministry before his disciples, he also gave them opportunities to be involved in the ministry. Many in Gen-Z are optimistic that they can offer helpful contributions to positive change and growth. If we want to raise up faithful disciples who are committed to the church, we should provide opportunities for this next generation to lead and take ownership of the ministry. With wisdom, consider how you can empower and equip the next generation of ministry leaders in your church.
I hope that you will make a commitment with me to see this next generation reached, equipped, and sent out on mission for Christ. What other things would you add to this list?