Preaching Good News to Generation Z

Preaching Good News to Generation Z

Those born between 1999 and 2015 make up Generation Z.  After looking at preaching to Builders, Busters, Millennials and Generation X, we turn now to consider preaching good news to Generation Z people in your church and community.

The Challenge of Preaching to Generation Z

This group grew up with technology.  Recently, my 8-year-old grandson was at our house.  I was having some trouble with my older model, somewhat finicky iPad.  He picked it up, figured out how to bypass my problem login and get to my homepage.  It was natural to him!  I regularly consult my 16-year-old grandson about things I don’t understand about my iPhone.  It’s natural to him.  My 14-year-old grandson regularly posts on instagram and tik-tok.  It comes as second nature to him to be involved with such technology, whereas I remember life before television.  This is one of the greatest challenges of preaching good news to generation Z people in your church, especially if you are older.

A Study

According to a 2011 report, kids who grew up in Gen Z have a greater challenge focusing on any activity.   Here’s a quote from that NBC report:

Mom and Dad warned that television would rot your brain, and a new study

suggests it’s true — at least from certain frenetic-style cartoons.

Kids who watched just nine minutes of the fast-paced children’s cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants” did worse afterward at tasks requiring focus and self-control than did kids who watched a slow-paced cartoon and kids who entertained themselves by coloring.

On the SpongeBob SquarePants program, the images change, on average, every 11 seconds.

Now picture those same people, now in twenties who come to church.  You preach, usually standing behind a stand or pulpit, talking for 25 or 30 minutes.  Needless to say, this is challenging to keep their attention.

What Are Gen Z People Like?

Here are some generalizations.

  • They were deeply impacted by the pandemic of the past few years.  This has made them anxious as they experienced a power beyond their control, in spite of all the technology around them.
  • They feel pressured.  When asked about negative emotions, the top ones identified by Gen Z people were:
      • tired a lot of the time   20%
      • Lonely
      • Discouraged about the future.
  • Mistrustful of religion.  13% identified as atheists in a study by George Barna, and a third fell into the category of nonreligious (either atheistic, agnostic, or “none”).   Barna refers to them as the “truly first post-Christian generation.”

As you can see, preaching the good news to Generation Z will be a challenge.

What Generation Z Wants In A Sermon

So, what do they want in a sermon?  Thirty-three percent still identify as Christian and are coming to church.  Here are their priorities according to the study done by Darren Hall.

  • 48% want to feel a personal connection to God
  • 32% said that they want a sermon to be applicable to their life
  • 28% want to understand a passage better than they did before.

Another thing they want in a sermon: they want relationship.  Generation Z, more than any generation that came before, wants to feel like they know you, the preacher.  They are more likely to accept the message if it comes from someone that they feel they relate to.

Challenging?  Yes!  Does this means that you have a personal relationship with every Gen Zer that is in your church?  Not necessarily.  You have to be aware, however, of what Barna reports in his 2016 study:  A majority of Gen Zers say that “older people don’t seem to understand the pressures my generation is under (70% agree).”

They are more likely to trust you if you are relational.  This quality is more important to them than being charismatic.

So What Does This Mean?

What does this all mean for those of us who are preaching good news to generation Z people in our churches?

I have a good record with Generation Z, mostly because I paid attention to them.   I just received a card from someone thanking me for years of ministry in his church.  The one thing that somewhat surprised me is that he said this: “My kids were especially impacted.  They found out how good your preaching was when they went away to college and tried to find a church to be part of.”

Here’s what I did when I became aware of preaching the good news to Generation Z people:

  • I became personal.  I told personal stories about my own challenges with faith.
  • I visited their gatherings at the church I served.
  • I used illustrations/stories that reflected the challenges their generation faces.

Think about Generation Z when you are preaching.  In the next post we’ll look at trying to preach across the generations.