Generation Z

A Simple Outreach Plan for Teenagers

lightstock_113234_small_byrene_haney

Do you find yourself talking to your teen and it seems like you’re just not getting through? However, you send a text message you get a response.  This is a generation that learned to text before they learned to spell. I am tempted today just to produce two-minute videos to get my kids to do their chores.  Maybe if the video is creative enough, it will go viral and make it to YouTube where they will see it and be moved to respond.

Rob Tims in an article for LifeWay, “Preparing Your Group Ministry for Generation Z” discovered these characteristics about your technology-driven teen:

“I recently had the privilege of sitting in on a meeting led by a social media expert. The purpose of the meeting was to help people like me understand at a broad level the things that make Generation Z unique. Generation Z is the one coming behind the Millennials and could include people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, depending on whom you ask. In fact, the title “Generation Z” is a matter of debate.

“When it comes to learning, members of Generation Z:

  • Are graphically driven.
  • Dislike lectures, tests, and classrooms.
  • Are constant multi-taskers.
  • Value instant feedback.
  • Generally, do not take the time to determine the reliability of information.
  • Thrive in collaborative environments.
  • Are wired for fast delivery of content.
  • Desire a customized educational experience.
  • This presents some unique challenges and opportunities for teaching the faith to this generation.

 Preaching Style and Delivery

Our preaching approach with this generation will need a radical overhaul. Due to the fact that lectures are the least effective way to connect with them, it makes little sense to invest time in trying to do that better. We will need to view the preaching time as more of a presentation that engages the hearer with powerful images and highly interactive content. While this will require learning new skills, it opens up an entirely new opportunity to engage young people in the preparation. 

New Leadership Development Required.

Additionally, due to the learning styles of this group, learning occurs best in an environment where collaboration is valued. So the challenge for leadership will be how design an education space that will allow for their group creativity to flourish. This will also require religious leaders to feel comfortable leading a generation that will not just sit by and soak up information but will talk as much as they will listen.

Finally, the most difficult challenge will be with the issues of biblical authority and inerrancy. For a generation that normally takes some time to determine the reliability of information, will we need to give these teens space to ask difficult faith questions? Time to have doubts and not shut them down for having questions and doubts?  If we try to force Biblical authority on them, I fear we will lose the right and ability to have influence in their life.

If you have rattling around in the back of our minds this church thing was going to get easier once the Millennials came back, clear out the marbles and think again. This generation will cause us to continue to grow in our approach to preaching, teaching and leadership development. However, what an amazing opportunity to discover new and innovative ways to proclaim the love of Christ to the next generation of disciples.

Check out this post with a simple practical approach to help churches better reach their communities.  Also, if you want to read a blog I co-wrote with Ann Ciaccio on what does your church sigh really say about you.  Check out this link.
http://www.concordiatechnology.org/blog/2016/05/its-a-sign

 

This is the second of a series of blogs on Generation Z. Below is the other post.
https://revheadpin.org/2016/05/26/simple-ways-to-reach-teens

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29 thoughts on “A Simple Outreach Plan for Teenagers”

  1. Spot on with respect to collaboration. My youngest actually sits with friends to discuss their specific denomination’s beliefs and values with respect to the others’. They do a comparison on who is “stricter” or more “tolerant”.

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  2. It’s always good when those in any leadership area, whether the area is educational, spiritual, athletics, political, know how to effectively communicate with teens. This is the generation that determines the future. I agree, we must be cognizant of Generation Z and seek ways to improve and bridge the gap of communication.

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  3. It is amazing how communication has transformed within such a short period. It’s a ‘communication revolution’ and as one of the ‘baby boomer’ generation, I sometimes feel like a Luddite. We have to adapt ourselves to keep up..

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  4. Thank you for another great post, Keith. I’m sharing with my ministry friends who work with teens. I’m also sharing with a few teens for their feedback (and maybe even their additions to your list). Good stuff. And yes, Wendy, we are the ones who must adapt because this generation is filled with change makers.

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    1. I am glad you are finding this a blessing. You might find the post on Having that Difficult Faith Conversation helpful as well. It is about how to look for openings to witness. The follow-up is Getting a second chance. Blessing.

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  5. I love the YouTube idea for chores! There will always be challenges on this earth, but that spur the imagination for new ideas to reach our youth. It starts at home. Great post Keith

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  6. This is great! I have a teen myself and have worked with this age group for years as a nurse. If you want to get through to them, you have to say what you want to say in a concise manner. Texting, I like that. Whatever it takes to positively influence them is what matters. Thank you for sharing. Have a blessed day!

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