Small groups are critical to a healthy church. There we experience teaching, fellowship, prayer, and pastoral care. In that context, life on life occurs. —Dr. Chuck Lawless
Who is Generation Z? If there is one word to describe this current generation it would be diverse. Generation Z is varied in their views on religion, sexuality, and racial issues as compared to previous generations. For the purposes of this article, Generation Z is the group of young people born after the year 2000. According to George Barna, here are some insights on this group:
- 50% are of an ethnic minority.
- Only 4% claims to have a biblical worldview; atheism is prominent.
- Truth is relative; there is no “one true religion.”
- They feel science seems to be at odds with church doctrine, but the church is a place to get “answers for life.”
- Technology, school shootings, and activism are their “normal.”
Why not simply put these young adults in groups with other young adults? Studies show that young people need adult mentors to help them transition out of the youth group in an effort to “graduate” them into adulthood. Also, Maslow’s theory that all of us need a sense of belonging is worth exploring in the church, particularly as it relates to Generation Z and their need for relationships outside their former youth group.
If you are a current youth leader or small-group leader who desires to bridge the gap between generations, there is hope! God can use that desire to reach this generation for Christ (Psalm 71:14-18). A theologically sound small group has the opportunity to help them see church as a viable component of their walk with God. Because of their strong convictions to connect with meaningful organizations, Generation Z will make time for church if they see its importance. Consequently, small groups have the responsibility to ensure that Generation Z will be more excited to enter ministry as adults rather than wandering around in the spiritual wilderness of “What do I do now that all of the fun I had in youth group is over?” In this way, young adults will be less likely to fall away from the church.
What follows are eight thoughts to consider as well as practical ways to include Generation Z into adult small groups.
1. Do Your Homework
Pray, pray, and pray some more. Where is God leading this study? What is his agenda for this small group? While there is value in catering to trends and specific needs, allow the Holy Spirit to operate. Pray for wisdom and that all young adults in the group will have a hunger for God and his word. Ask God to help you lay down your own presuppositions about Generation Z; they need the Lord, even if they don’t know it yet. Share your personal testimony of how God is active in your life and why church matters. Your transparency is key in their quest for sincerity from those who seek their attention. To help them in their Christian walk and to gain insight about them, you may want to conduct a short, anonymous survey. Have everyone in the group fill out this survey and assessment. It will keep the young adults from feeling singled out and you might even learn some important insights about the older members of you group; this is nonthreatening and easier for those who are shy. A spiritual gifts assessment they can take at home will also help them further identify their places in God’s plan. If possible, pair Generation Z students with a former youth group leader who may know them personally. They are more likely to feel included if there is an adult whom they already know. A prayerful partnership with their current youth minister may serve you well in this capacity as small-group leader.