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Reach Generation Zby Sean Estler on January 31, 2019
For a while now, I have been thinking about our local church experience and how we should and can differentiate ourselves from the constant noise that seeks to disorient and grab attention in society. The current society and culture press us ever further to build something that lasts even in this tumultuous time. Out of that drive, some seek out money and try to amass wealth. Some seek out fame and try to get their fifteen minutes, which in recent past looks more like 15 seconds. No matter what we do, as individuals, we feel empty if it does not have lasting impact. We seek new things to fill that void, which only serves to show us how large the void is. So how do we differentiate ourselves? How do we rise above the noise?
To differentiate ourselves from that which seeks chaos, we must pass our substance on to the next generation. We as the American church, have failed to reach the millennial generation, which is why we do not see 20-somethings flooding our congregations. The main reason we have failed to reach that generation is because we tried to pass on our methodology, not our substance. Most in the millennial generation, myself included, respond to stories. We know how to respond to a good or bad story and narrative is what drives us. As communication continues to get more efficient, we need stories to remind us of our meaning and reignite the drive that is either lost or misdirected.
The American church is poised to make the same mistake with Generation Z as they did with the Millennials. But we are just now seeing the effects and the dire cost of that mistake. Please, if you have ears hear this! There are plenty of students and children in Generation Z in our local body. They are not the future of the church, they are the church presently. Yes, they will one day be leading movements and ministries that redefine what the local church will look like, but they are part of the body now. You have the responsibility and the duty to pass on your substance in the form of stories. They deeply desire to hear your stories. Spend an hour giving your testimony over coffee or invite them over and talk with them. This is an important ministry that cannot be disregarded. Our substance – the Gospel and our testimonies, not our methodologies – are the things that will bring them back to God.
I commend what you have done, and I ask that you would partner with me and the other ministry leaders in seeking out the next generation lest they be lost in the blind spots in our love.