In the prior post, I suggested an overall conversational approach for relating to Gen Z. It involves asking good questions, listening carefully, sharing from our own lives, and using “I” statements rather than definitive “truth” statements. This approach helps build trust if done sincerely and prayerfully.
At some point the Lord may open a door for presenting ideas from Scripture to a Gen Z friend (or group).
First, slow down. Hold your horses. Don’t be eager to tell or declare or assert. Wait for the moment.
Second, ask permission. “Could I share something with you?” or “Could I suggest a way to think about this that’s been helpful to me?”
400 other suggestions (additives)
. . . of which I will mention three:
Begin with common ground, such as a concern for justice. I like to point out that God cares way more for minorities and the marginalized, the broken and the oppressed, than we do. If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be wise to join his team and work in the power of his Spirit rather than in our own strength?
Acknowledge the sins of the church. For a devoted churchman like myself, this is tricky. Many Gen Zers are put off by the institutional church and its perceived involvement in slavery, racism, exclusion of LGBTQ persons, and politics.
Sometimes young people are ill-informed and base their judgments of the church on hearsay and misperception (or one negative experience). But not always. Sometimes they’re quite knowledgeable. In any case, I try to balance acknowledging the sins of the church with demonstrating my love for the church.
To summarize, I seek to “love the imperfect church.” That’s my posture when I show up to the Gen Z scene.
Portray Jesus as a revolutionary, not an institutional founder or CEO. Jesus broke societal rules (in a good way). He reached out to the margins. He condemned institutional corruption. I often say to young people, “There’s one person in the world who hates religious hypocrisy more than anyone. His name is Jesus. Have you read his story? . . Lately?”
Then point them to the cleansing of the temple (John 2), or Jesus’ condemnation of the Teachers of the Law (Matt 23), or his acceptance of women from the social fringe (Luke 7, John 4).
In many ways, Jesus is a friend of Gen Z. He cares about their concerns. That’s not to say his solutions to social problems are the same as theirs. But he “gets” Gen Z.
Return to the first post in this 3-part series.
Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash
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