Reaching Generation Z
I am a proud member of Generation Z, being 19 years old myself. My heart is deeply broken for my generation. Generation Z clearly and deeply needs Jesus.
According to a new study from George Barna, only 4% of my generation has what Barna describes as “a Biblical worldview.” A remarkable 35% of Generation Z claim to be “atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular.” The sad truth from this report is that Generation Z is “the least Christian Generation in American history.”
If we do not do something to reach Generation Z for Jesus, the future is and will continue to be darker and darker for the world.
“How can we reach Generation Z?” This is the question many people in ministry are asking. It is not a simple answer. At the same time, I believe strongly that Generation Z can be reached for Jesus.
In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul tells Timothy to not “let anyone look down on [him] because [he is] young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (NIV).
I believe the key secret -- the most important role of any age evangelist is this: to empower and turn loose the next generation to reach their generation for Jesus. We must actively recruit and mobilize others to get involved in evangelism.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to share about my heart for my generation at a conference, with some of the most influential national youth ministry leaders in the country. As a 16-year old, I had the stage for a few minutes where I shared these three key words: “Turn us loose.” Please stop trying to do it all for us teens. Give us the lead. Let us have the microphone.
Why is this so important? Because my generation will listen to someone who is their age, who is like them. My generation is tired of being coddled. We want to lead.
Three years ago, when I was 16 years old and a junior in high school, God put on my heart to plan an event to reach my fellow teenagers in my area for Christ. In March of that year, I -- along with a group of only teenagers -- held an event that impacted hundreds of teens in my community. This event, called “#HowToLife,” has now turned into a fast growing movement of teenagers all over the country stepping up to reach their friends for Christ by planning completely student-led evangelism events. Only teenagers are on the stage, sharing music, dramas, testimonies, and the Gospel.
Trey, a high school senior from Birmingham, Alabama, shared this about his experience sharing the Gospel at his event:
“When [Jordan] asked me to share the gospel, I got scared for a second, but peace came upon me knowing that it wasn’t me speaking. Does anyone really feel qualified to share the gospel? No, of course not, I spent countless hours praying to be a vessel for the gospel. I even got a group of my leaders to pray for me together and alone.
At the time when I first shared the Gospel, I was super nervous, but I had so much peace I can’t explain it. I was nervous in the beginning because of not knowing what to expect.
It only took one young boy to come forward and then the flood came both in the students coming forward and in my eyes. It was the most touching experience I have ever felt -- God answering prayers right in front of our eyes.
Once it’s all over you feel blessed that God would use you to reach your peers and to save my generation from death. I really don’t know how to fully explain it.”
A huge truth about the next generation is that today’s teenagers listen to each other more than they listen to anyone else. If that is the case, then a huge job for us as evangelists must be to help empower and multiply our influence through younger people.
So what can you do?
Find some younger people you can mentor in evangelism. Help them “taste” what you do, and see if they catch your heart for reaching the lost.
Help give them a platform. A platform can be anything from sharing at an event, a service, or even a social media post or video. Help give them a chance to develop these gifts, to share Christ with the lost.
What would it look like if every church were to give a microphone to a young person, and let them share from their heart? The truth is, that’s who the next generation will listen to!
Of all teenagers today, it seems very few truly know Jesus. And of the teens that do know Jesus, an even smaller percentage of those could be classified as true leaders. But those teenage leaders who do love Jesus can be an incredible force for the Kingdom. All they need is help in getting a bold platform for Christ.
We must make it our priority to empower and equip the next generation, my generation, in evangelism. Don’t look down on people because they are young. The harvest truly is plentiful. But in order to bring it in, we must mobilize the next generation of workers. Young people can and will make a huge difference for the Kingdom. We must empower them to do so, and “turn them loose!”
Rev. Jordan Whitmer, 20, is the Founder and Executive Director of #HowToLife Movement, a fast-growing youth evangelism movement that mobilizes high school students to lead their peers to stand and live for Jesus. Now in over 13 states, and heading to Europe, HowToLife has been used to equip hundreds of high school student leaders to boldly share the Gospel face to face with over 10,000 of their peers, with hundreds making commitments to Christ. Jordan is a recent graduate of Liberty University, with a Bachelor’s in Religion: Biblical and Theological Studies. Keep up with him on Instagram.