7 Habits of Generation Z That Your Church Might Be Ignoring

This post is written by Dillon Smith, a Gen Z team member at Carey Nieuwhof Communications.

There’s no doubt that Gen Z has some different habits than previous generations.

Thanks to the internet and smartphones, the environment that we’ve grown up in is completely unique, and unlike any generation before.

We spend more time online, go outside less, and care about wildly different things than our parents did when they were kids.

You might look at these habits and think that these habits are “just a phase” or that we’ll “grow out of it.”

We won’t.

At the time I’m writing, I’m 22 and I still watch A TON of YouTube. Even post-graduation, my classmates still spend a ton of time on Instagram and TikTok. None of us plan on making any of these a smaller part of our lives.

So for the church: How do you become a bigger part of our lives online?

Well, first, I think you need to be aware of how and why we behave and think the way we do.

I’m seeing 7 habits of Generation Z that your church might be ignoring. Here’s the list:

1. I watch who I want, when I want

The internet has given me the freedom to watch exactly who I want, when I want.

So, the only reason my friends or I are watching your church online is either because our parents are making us, or because we deeply care about what you have to say.

There are just too many other appealing ways to pass the time for us to waste our time on something that isn’t helpful or fun to watch.

So what does this mean for teaching pastors and service programming directors?

10 seconds of boring is enough to lose a Gen Z viewer.

Every second of online content you produce needs to add value in an efficient and engaging way.

2. If you want me to follow you for a long time, I need to get to know you

Our spirituality is one of the most sacred and private things we have, and if you want Gen Z to trust you with our time and subscription, we need to trust you.

And, a weekly sermon just doesn’t cut it for us.

In this digital era, churches should be producing more personal content online, not less.

There are tons of Twitch streamers and YouTubers who are doing this well. As church leaders, it’s about time that we start learning from them.

The single best YouTuber I’ve found at building a feeling of community and trust is a guy named Matt Carriker. Matt (who happens to be a Christian) has built three massively successful YouTube channels that have a combined total of 15.26 million subscribers.

His OffTheRanch channel is a personal vlog, and his fastest-growing channel that allows his viewers to see into his family, his hobbies, his character flaws, his ideas, and his work. By taking us into his real life, it builds more trust and community within his audience.

I think churches could do something similar.

Lead pastors could take the vlog camera home and show some of how they parent, or the staff could bring the vlog to worship practice or community service projects to show how the church is run throughout the week.

It’s just an idea, but ideas like this are going to reach my generation.

If you want more on how to create videos that people love to watch and engage with, Sean Cannell’s Video Influencers would be another great channel to check out. Here’s Sean’s recent interview on Carey’s podcast.

3. I’ve been trained to view myself as a brand

Thanks to platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, I’ve grown up viewing myself as my own brand.

I don’t think this mindset is healthy, but I do think it’s accurate. And as the church, we’re called to reach people where they actually are, not where we would hope they’d be.

If you want to reach a “me-centered” generation, show us what’s in it for us.

One biblical angle to take with this is to change your church’s focus from the Sunday experience to what the church is doing throughout the week. Show us how we can join your movement and not just build your platform.

This might be a bit closer to how the church was designed to function anyway. 😉

4. Gen Z would prefer to avoid our parent’s generation on social media

When I look back at my time in school, new social media apps like Vine, YikYak, Kik, and TikTok would come up in popularity in phases.

The life cycle of a new app would look like this:

  1. A new app would release
  2. It would become popular because our parents had no idea about it yet
  3. Our parents would find out about it and create an account or have the school block it
  4. We would all abandon it for the next app
  5. Repeat

I think this is part of why TikTok exploded like it did, and why many of the young people I know are spending less time on Facebook and Instagram and more time on TikTok. It’s still cool to avoid our parent’s generation online.

So, for you and your church, I’ve got a few strategies to think about:

  1. Even as new apps become popular, I still follow Craig Groeschel on Instagram and YouTube. I follow him because I trust him, and I’ll still watch him on those platforms because I know he’ll be there. If you’re a senior pastor, stick to where your people know you are, and double down.
  2. For taking new ground on new apps (like TikTok), let a young staff member or young volunteer take the lead. Let the student ministry put effort towards experimental apps, and as the average age of an app’s users increases, begin to add adult-focused content.
  3. No matter how old you are, don’t try to be someone you aren’t. If I see John Piper dancing on TikTok tomorrow, I’m going to be more concerned and less likely to follow him. No matter the platform, being authentically you is the best way forward.

5. Diversity isn’t optional

A couple of years ago, Greg Atkinson told me that if you want to reach the next generation, having a diverse church isn’t optional. He’s right.

Our schools are diverse, our workplaces are diverse, and our friend groups are diverse. If your church isn’t at least as diverse as the school we grew up in, we will question you as an organization.

As Derwin Gray and Darryn Scheske pointed out on a recent ChurchPulse Weekly podcast episode:

“Young adults aren’t leaving the church, they’re leaving the white church.”

If you want more on leading a diverse church, this interview is a great place to start.

6. My mental health issues aren’t going away

One of the biggest issues facing the next generation is a sharp decline in mental health.

Here’s the strange part: We’re fully aware of the mental health crisis, and what’s causing it, but our phones are too good to give up.

The rewards of the internet outweigh the risks for us.

So, how can you help?

Sadly, a sermon series once a year isn’t enough to reach a generation plagued with anxiety. The church needs a better solution.

Maybe it’s opening a counseling wing attached to your church. Maybe it’s making mental health a regular focus of your young adult ministry or small group or something else entirely. Whatever it is, this is a felt need that we have year-round that the church can’t ignore.

7. When I talk to my non-Christian friends about church, I usually need to lead with an apology

During my first couple of years of bible college, I was a server and bartender at a restaurant in downtown Omaha.

All but two of my coworkers were 16 to 30-year-olds who were either atheist or agnostic, and almost all of them had stories about how the church had hurt them or their families.

So, if I wanted to have any form of evangelistic/spiritual conversation with them, I had to first apologize (for something I had nothing to do with) and convince them that not every Christian is judgmental or abusive.

This is true for most of the people my age.

If the church wants to reach the next generation, justified or not, you’ll need to apologize to most of the next generation first.

I wish this weren’t true. And I wish it were just an isolated thing, but it’s not.

As evidence that this wasn’t just my experience, I posted a tweet last week in a moment of stress that I would not be so quick to post again. The tweet said;

“As a 22-year old Christian, too often it feels like I’m a Christian in spite of the Church rather than because of the church.”

Again, if I could go back in time I don’t think I’d tweet this again, but one thing that shocked me was the response I saw.

It was by far the most liked and retweeted tweet I’ve ever shared.

And you know who did nearly all of the liking and retweeting?

Gen Z Christians.

They responded with things like

“Oof, I feel this.”
“This is sadly true.”
“I would share if I didn’t think it would create a storm I’m not prepared to tackle.”

This massive response tells me that the emotion I was feeling when I originally posted the tweet is hitting a chord with the rest of my generation. It’s telling me that the tweet might be more right than I know.

As the Church, we need to get ahead of this.

We need to follow Jeff Henderson’s advice and make sure our communities know what we’re FOR rather than what we’re against, and we need to apologize to those we’ve hurt, even if it wasn’t us who did it.

If we don’t do this, more and more irrelevance and hate await the bride of Christ.

Is there more? 

Did I miss anything? Are there other habits of Gen-Z that we’re missing? Did you find this article helpful?

Leave a comment below and let us know.

7 Habits of Generation Z That Your Church Might Be Ignoring


  1. Jonathan Bubar on September 10, 2021 at 9:13 am

    Spot on. Like it or not, this is the next generation. You can berate them, complain about them or disagree with them, but the call of Jesus isn’t to change them. It’s to win them through the gospel message. Reading through these comments, I see a lot of people not willing to be like Paul and “become all things to all men that I may win some.” Gen Z hates the echo chamber and some ministers don’t know how to venture outside of that. Gen Z is looking for authentic leaders who are critical thinkers, who speak truth into both extremes around us and back that up with a humble lifestyle. The reason we will lose so many of them isn’t public schools, secular education or post modern humanism. The reason we will lose this generation is horrible leadership both in the home and in the church. Listen to what the writer is saying here. Gen Z is craving authentic community. That should be Pavlovian to a healthy church who sees their mission as 20% Sunday experience and 80% Life experience. Gen Z is craving authentic discipleship. Let’s give it to them.

  2. Jacob on June 29, 2021 at 5:45 pm

    I’m surprised at this article.

    I’m 23, and don’t think this way AT ALL. Really, Dillon? Were’s your grace? Where’s your pastorship?
    This article might be “the 7 habits we have” but really it reads “the 7 things your church needs to ‘fix’ to ‘win’ my generation”
    This whole article reads about me. With little actually helpful strategy to pastor a me-centered generation.

    So Dillon, you continue to create straw men out of the church and tear them down and cause pastors to quit after reading your article. (true story, it’s literally actually happening) You continue to offer poor advice from 0 experience leading a church, from your armchair. You continue to focus on opinion pieces that don’t have any biblical base. You continue to paint my generation as snowflakes with little-to-no actual guidance in how someone might mentor us.
    You continue to seem to be the exact example of what’s aweful about our overly judgemental and WAY to me-focused generation.

    An the rest of us will work in the fringes, quietly undoing the damage you’ve done.

    • Molly K Canfield on August 24, 2021 at 3:56 pm

      I agree with you Jacob. And I’m 56 year old Christian who was saved only 3 years ago. It took a long time for me to
      come to God, but He is longsuffering and welcomed me despite my low state, in fact, BECAUSE of it. God doesn’t need to change to “win” people. That’s not how He works. I was attacted to the church I go to now because of it’s fundamental approach and clear message about what is right and what is wrong. In a world turned upside down, where up is down and good is bad a la Alice in Wonderland, God and His word do not need to change. Ever. That is the path Christians must walk.

  3. Mike on June 15, 2021 at 8:49 am

    It sounds like Gen-Z would like to attend churches that speak to their interests, cater to their stylistic preferences and pursue the causes they care most about. How is that any different than what previous generations did that now necessitates an apology just to start a conversation with people about the church? This article does not really propose anything new; it is the same approach to ministry that got us where we are today.

  4. Keith on May 26, 2021 at 10:41 am

    Thank you for posting 7 Habits of Gen Z. #2 is a good point, to see into the speaker’s family, hobbies, etc because we all need to get an idea of his character, not just his ideas – with some precautions, as others have pointed out. And #3, it is important to invite listeners to join in on what we’re doing, not just our platform.

    As for #6, the mental health issues probably goes along with the ‘Me centred’ point, but yes, needs to be addressed. We can support them in getting to the point where they see that the best thing I can do to continue improving my mental health is to start being more loving to my neighbours.

    #7 is where I completely disagree. Yes, people were wounded by interactions with people within the church, and elsewhere. We don’t need to apologize for the failings of human nature. We need to show them how our community is empowered by God in spite of the church / our flesh to be able to overcome these things.

    • David on September 10, 2021 at 9:36 am

      No, the church must apologize

  5. Paige on May 24, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    Please believe me when I say your generation isn’t the first generation to be abused by the church. The church is far from perfect. Not to mention what the leaders of Israel did to their people. And for that matter all through the ages I have yet to see a single generation that can say they weren’t hurt by the previous generation. There’s good and bad everywhere. Look for the good. Avoid the wrong. Eyes on Jesus.

    • Desiree on May 25, 2021 at 11:51 am


      • Janet Woodlock on June 19, 2021 at 7:24 pm

        What lengths would the Good Shepherd go to in order to find one lost soul?

        For some of the commentators here, listening to a painful experience and saying “I’m so sorry that happened to you” is far too great a sacrifice to make.

  6. Rev. Dr. Irven A. Gammon on May 24, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    I found this post to be very helpful. I am a pastor who now works with 34 churches in our northeast region. I have found many articles insightful and helpful to the work I do with the churches under my care. My question is this. Can I share posts with other pastors in their entirety (copy and paste), acknowledging you as the source, or is the material copywrited? I would like to share this post with the pastors of our Fellowship, as well as others I have read. Please let me know.

  7. Mark Moberly on May 23, 2021 at 5:28 pm

    It’s really sad to read both in the article, and the responses, of all the divisive comments referencing under the guise of “diversity” racism. The church is not here to entertain people. Neither is it here to please any generation’s ears. It is here to unite all humans as one race, bringing them to Christ. In Christ, there is no black church, no white church, no yellow church. There is THE CHURCH. The church was not started in a “white” portion of the world. Referencing a white church shows ignorance in those doing so. Reaching the youngest generation is a tough challenge due to the very short attention span caused by living online. Complacency in the “norm” by members of all churches has helped cause issues too.
    90% of new attenders/members are not led to the church by anything happening on stage. They come because of the current members. The phrase “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” is accurate within the church. The newcomer must want to become a Christian as set out in the Bible. The church is not a country club. It is a learning institution.

    • Jason on May 23, 2021 at 6:19 pm

      According to the bible, one of the ultimate goals of the gospel is that one day people from every nation, language, and ethnicity will be included in God’s kingdom. Diversity is gospel work. There is no other area of gospel work where we would suggest that we just “sit back and let it happen,” other than when it comes to racial reconciliation. We are to approach gospel work with intentionality and that includes intentionally building churches that Faithfully represent scriptures vision of every tribe, tongue and nation. This vision is too central to the new testament to sit back and hope for the best on and it disturbs me that so many christians in recent months advocate that stance.

    • Carol on May 25, 2021 at 9:47 am

      I thought this article was very helpful. Unfortunately most of the church leaders in my circle are not interested and don’t see the value in changing methods of outreach. The church that I was raised in (50+yrs) has lost all of it’s young adult membership it’s sad that the leadership (all senior all men) sees almost any change as sin.

    • Janet Woodlock on June 20, 2021 at 3:59 pm

      “The church is a learning institution”

      Is a community of formation around Christ perhaps a better way of describing what we see in the New Testament?

      I’m not saying people don’t learn. But breaking bread and sharing life together seem essential elements too.

  8. Justin on May 23, 2021 at 11:12 am

    This article and the comments gave me more insight than the many articles I have read in recent months… for none of the reasons intended. There is a lot to wrestle with here. In this well intended and honest article I see the collapse of the church (way to be dramatic). I think the next church model will be constructed from the rubble of our existing construct. I don’t see how adaption is going to reach Gen Z with divine love and truth. It is obvious that a change in methodology is not the change desired, it’s a change in message, and to remain Christian, you can’t compromise on this. I’ve always felt that recent church growth models were evolutionary (adapt to survive) rather than biblical (new life from dead things/times etc). I love the ministry of Carey and team and appreciate the vulnerability of the author of this article, but we’re going to have to trust God through a death and rebirth cycle and transition our trust out of an evolutionary process of adapt to survive to new life from a dead times/culture/things. Unfortunately, the Boomer, and Gen X generations failed in the ministry of “pass on,” now the ministry is going to be “pull out.”

  9. Jimmy the Flikk on May 23, 2021 at 9:55 am

    18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
    20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
    21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
    22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;
    23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
    24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
    25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
    26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
    27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
    28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,
    29 so that no man may boast before God.
    30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
    31 so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-31 NASB)

  10. Jason on August 15, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    I’m not GenZ by any stretch of the imagination, but what about social action and engagement? I’m not saying churches have to adopt a certain political stance to attract young people, but from what I’m beginning to see, if a church is not at least willing and able to engage intelligently on issues such as systemic racism, climate change, etc., most of GenZ is not going to take them seriously. My limited experience is that maybe you don’t have to agree with them on these types of issues, but simply ignoring them isn’t a legitimate option anymore.

  11. Maranatha OB on August 7, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    Great insight Dillon! Thanks a lot!

  12. Ryan H on August 4, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks for this, Dillon, these 7 things seem to ring true to me. Helpful to see them codified. I’m Gen X as far as I know. And I think the bigger question is a question of values. I don’t value technology and social media like others do. The core things I want out of life and ministry don’t require technology. I see a huge values clash here. Not only the fact that, sorry, I and my family (and most of my staff and Elders and Deacons for that matter) would be terrifyingly uncomfortable with turning our lives into a reality TV show. People in ministry already live in a glass house — I cherish aspects of my life where someone else is not there or able to comment on it!

    Here’s what would help me: What are the Values of Gen-Z ers? WHY do they value tech and such as they do? If I understood that, I could get somewhere with this. I don’t foresee spending the prodigious time and effort it would be to put my life online — vlog– to prove myself to a detached viewer. I would LOVE to spend time and effort hammering out what each might value, why, how church community can give that, how Christ gives that and on and on… Anyway, thanks much.

    • Rich on May 24, 2021 at 9:08 am

      Ryan, I had the same thought exactly when it came to referencing vlogging from home as a lead pastor. As someone who just out of necessity had to have my three children (two of whom are in high school) and my wife block two toxic members on social media from our brand new church, inviting people into the intimacy of our home is not something I feel comfort with. I don’t disagree with bringing transparency online to reveal different aspects of life, etc. However, as another Gen X’er, that feels a bit like pushing myself as a brand to be emulated. I totally get the concept and motive, but if it means inviting people not only into the intimate space of my home but access to my family as well I’m more than cautious.
      The larger point I agree with in the article comes int he form of apologizing for the church to be able to speak into the current culture…GenZ or not. The new world consists of post-evangelical conversations and restoration of those who have either been damaged by the church, or have a caricature of the church that is well deserved because of the actions and methods of evangelicalism in the last 40-50 years.

      • Emily on June 29, 2021 at 2:59 am

        I am with you on this. I’m a Gen Xer too, and know that the reality of ministry leadership is that you don’t have a lot of extra time for making your everyday life a production. What we can do, though, is real, life-on-life, Jesus modeled, relational discipleship. My husband and I are dorm parents at a boarding school for missionary kids and we hear on a regular basis how our life is like a sitcom and that the teenage boys we live with are going to miss “watching the show” of our normal family life when they graduate. Clearly we are having the same effect as a vlog simply by living our lives in a close community with the teenagers we are discipling. I feel like a lot of older Gen Xers, especially, are stuck in the “programs” mentality that they grew up with in the 80’s and 90’s, but Jesus modeled deep relational discipleship and that’s exactly what Gen Z (and Millenials) are looking for. Rather than putting our lives on youtube, doing the work to build real, authentic relationships with younger people, will hit a lot of the points made in this article. The tech generations don’t have the skills we have for building relationships and community because they can fall back onto their phones or technology. They can skip the awkwardness of a college freshman mixer or avoid taking the time to build a friendship with their awkward new roommate because they have a socially acceptable automatic escape. We, as the leaders in churches and ministries, have to teach them how and put in the effort to build that trust and community. When we invest, they will begin to see value and the church will begin to heal. Smoke machines, slick productions, more programs, and cheesy social media is not the answer. And as much as this article talks about wanting more valuable online content, maybe that isn’t the answer as much as opening up our lives and connecting with Gen Z in their lives-in real life-in a genuine way. That’s what Jesus did and he’s the best example we have.

  13. david on July 31, 2020 at 8:35 pm

    Yes, but as a 60 year old I have experienced 1st hand some nasty, rude comments. I have travelled the world many times and NA Christians are the nastiest people I have met. Maybe its time we looked at the beam in our before jumping at the mote in others. I am a Christian despite Christians. I will be in heaven many ‘Christians’ will not be.

  14. Mark on July 31, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    Some people call themselves Christians yet do not act like a Christian should. Some of those people may be on the back row, the front row, in leadership, or in the pulpit. You will never get an organisation exactly the way you want it. If so, it will only have one member. Follow Jesus and act like Jesus taught people to do. You can’t go wrong doing that. Now, does it need to be easier to participate in church, of course. Does leadership need to be open to a wider group, of course. Now, this is a gen x person’s opinion who felt run out too.

  15. James on July 31, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    I thought you were a GenZ and expert on this generation until you said you use Twitter. 🤪 Actually, this is a great article, thanks for the thought out into it. My Gen Z kids don’t use and don’t know any other GenZ’s who use Twitter. 😀
    Thanks again, very helpful and pointed. I’ll be sharing this with my church to continue the conversation because EVERY generation has value to God.

  16. Todd on July 31, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Nice article. Quick question Dillon. Are Z’s leaving the ‘white church’ as stated or non-gospel centered churches (which I would think smack of being inauthentic) in general…. and those happen to be white? I think it is an important distinction. My understanding from this site and others, that bible preaching churches tend to grow and vice versa… Your thoughts?

    • Dillon Smith on July 31, 2020 at 12:59 pm

      Hey Todd, great question!

      I’ve got 3 answers.

      1. Since I pulled that Quote from Derwin and Darryn on ChurchPulse Weekly, I do think it’s actually talking about white and black churches. I don’t want to assume anything but what they said in this interview: https://churchpulseweekly.org/2020/07/derwin-gray-darryn-scheske/

      2. Sadly, the definition of “Bible preaching” is a bit hard to make. A lot of growing churches preach the Bible, but what I’ve found is that there are a lot of the churches that call themselves “Bible preaching churches” (implying that most others aren’t) who are a bit too far on the legalistic side. Those legalistic churches definitely aren’t growing, and definitely aren’t reaching people my age, in my experience…

      There is a really great church here in town called CityLight church that is reaching A TON of young people, and they are also a deeply diverse and Bible preaching church (although they would rarely call themselves that…)

      I think in the future, you will need diversity, Biblical preaching, authenticity and humility if you want to reach any of Gen-Z in America.

      • Maranatha OB on August 7, 2020 at 12:33 pm

        I will have a tendency to think that when I hear white churches, it’s more a reference to the system, the way of doing things that is rooted in white culture . It could be a church with some level of diversity in the pews but it doesn’t mean that diversity is integrated in the way church is done, executed.

    • Jillyemma71 on August 2, 2020 at 4:06 am

      Brilliant article but you didn’t mention LGBT issues in your diverse comment. Dont ignore this.massive difference in generations.

      • david on August 2, 2020 at 8:57 am

        Think the Bible is very clear about this. God is always the same – he doesn’t change over time.

        • Susan on May 23, 2021 at 7:15 am

          No, God doesn’t change over time, but our understanding of God and what He expects of us, should change over time. People in the Old Testament sadly thought that God condoned genocide. They hadn’t yet figured out that He loves and values everyone.

          • CHA on June 1, 2021 at 5:00 pm

            Ouch. God NEVER condoned genocide as a thing. God has destroyed entire population groups only when they had become entirely unredeemable in their idolatry (i.e. the Flood, and particular Canaanites), and as a means of protecting God’s plan of Redemption. God has not changed. Nor has bible believer’s interpretation of God’s plan. There will still be another final destruction — when the wrath of God is finally poured out among those who have confirmed their rejection of the Son. Again, God has not changed.

      • Caroline on June 11, 2021 at 4:03 pm

        I came to say the same thing. This is just HUGE and I find it disappointing that something that is so important to that generation is just not mentioned. A lack of affirming churches will drive many away.

        • Holly on June 11, 2021 at 7:08 pm

          Yes, exactly! I know it was what led my Gen Z kids out of church (and my husband and me following.)

  17. David on July 31, 2020 at 11:59 am

    ““As a 22-year old Christian, too often it feels like I’m a Christian in spite of the Church rather than because of the church.”” … it is not just 20 somethings (age of my kids), I am almost 60 and feel the same way … lets face it the vast majority of Christians are nasty, rude, arrogant people not the type of people who want to spend time and are are certainly not Christ like.

  18. Doc on July 31, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Two words today after reading this post and the comments: inexpressible sadness.

    I care deeply about reaching new people in new generations — it’s why I subscribe to this.

    I also believe strongly that the Christian church I grew up in has flaws and has been stuck in some bad ruts that have created obstacles for the spread of the gospel. (Also why I subscribe to this.)

    But this post and these comments make me so very sad. I want to apologize yes… but maybe not for the church. Maybe on behalf of the parents who were so apathetic in their Christianity or so absent that they’ve allowed a generation to be raised by tech babysitters who have been allowed shape their thinking and to exploit them since birth.
    The admitted self-centeredness of Generation Z is antithetical to Christianity. And a generation willing to cancel if the message is not what their itching ears wanted to hear will always find love in the arms of another preacher.
    Allow me to present another scenario: the rain shower of the gospel is moving. Gen Z in western culture does not appear to have the strength or conviction to retain the society that others built and maybe they won’t have the freedom (or desire) to shop for churches for very long. But there are people in the world right now who care more about what God says than about whether or not a church looks like they want or sounds like what they want or has enough homosexual tolerance or female representation in leadership. Christians throughout history have had to shake the dust off their feet and move on… sometimes because of persecution, sometimes by choice. Maybe it’s time to focusing our energy and resources on a different diversity— following the rain shower to people in other parts of the world

    • Steve on August 1, 2020 at 11:23 am

      great response, well thought out.

    • Yo on August 8, 2020 at 6:42 pm

      Yo. But That right there. 👆👀

    • Kayjay on August 9, 2020 at 7:56 pm

      Thank you fir your clarity and boldness…You hit many points…you are smart and compassionate and you get it…however the rain shower here is massive because of the abdication of X, Y and later boomers in applying the…”let them decide if they want to go to church or study Bible etc when they are older and can decide for them selves.” Sadly without a basic understanding of wrong we can’t know right…and you don’t know what you don’t know!! My opinion …

    • Scott on May 24, 2021 at 2:07 pm

      10 times better than the actual article, lol.
      As a minister who his slowly and painstakingly reaching Gen Y and Z folks, but doing better with young millennial families, as I read this article the thought kept creeping into my head…”Why don’t we just skip Gen Z and move on to Gen A2?”. Of course, my heart wouldn’t let me do this, but the apparent apathy, self-centeredness and judgemental nature of this generation, willing to cancel anything that isn’t part of the group-think that they aren’t even aware they participate in, has me wanting to “shake the dust off my sandals…”
      “The admitted self-centeredness of Generation Z is antithetical to Christianity. And a generation willing to cancel if the message is not what their itching ears wanted to hear will always find love in the arms of another __________.” This quote pretty much sums it up. However, I replaced “Preacher” with a blank, because its not preaching that they are replacing the faith you offer with. Its the world.
      The current US church has LOT of things to fix, no doubt, and I do think the younger generations are partnering in good ways in this endeavor. However, we need to not get sucked into the black hole of “me-ness” thet Gen Z seems to live for while making corrections.

  19. bob on July 31, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Not sure how those timely points rolled into Catholic Church, but back to the points – You could not be more timely. I do not have confidence that much will change these reasons that I often here: 1) We make no apologies for boldly preaching the word at (Name the Church). And, I hear that no point in changing anything because unless God moves them you are wasting your time. Nothing wrong with being innovative. The next wave is the progressive church if we don’t address some of these items. We need to establish dialogue and be patient and hold back the aggressive evangelism.

  20. bob on July 31, 2020 at 11:01 am

    Not sure how those timely points rolled into Catholic Church, but back to the points – You could not be more timely. I do not have confidence that much will change these reasons that I often here: 1) We make no apologies for boldly preaching the word at (Name the Church). And, I hear that no point in changing anything because unless God moves them you are wasting your time. Nothing wrong with being innovative. The next wave is the progressive church if we don’t address some of these items.

  21. Alice Holland on July 31, 2020 at 10:50 am

    I thought the bible had instructed His people to ‘come out of her’ in the Last Days as it would become corrupted. We don’t need church – all we need is HIM and if we really know Him then we are happy and content knowing He is there for all our needs.
    I found Jesus in 1962 and I am now 86. In all that time He has never let me down and I have been used for deep ministry and healing simply
    because I know Him. I came to the Barossa 4 years ago and after visiting the local churches I decided to stay home with Him. I am ailing
    which makes it more suitable.
    With my visits I was disappointed to find myself with Christians that didn’t know Him – for instance, There was 15 mins of prayer and worship
    to bring Him into our presence. as well as prayers for people that have had their problems for years.
    Let me explain. When we give our lives to Jesus we become ONE with Him. Jesus came into that room with every committed Christian standing there We don’t have to invite Him in as if He is a guest..
    Jesus and I are ONE. He is my COMPANION, my FRIEND, my LOVE, my COUNSELLOR, my HEALER He is everything. in 57 years He has healed me from all manner of complaints and serious illnesses He has brought me through the London Blitz, poverty and a childhood of abuse and as in the case of most abused children, I went into an abused marriage as I didn’t think I was worth better.
    The Lord and I have grown closer as I’ve aged and become infirm. The more I need Him the closer we get.
    You can have the same experience if you lean on Him rather than look for others in churches to do it for you.
    That person that said, ‘I don’t feel close to Jesus now’ is replied, ‘Well – WHO – moved?…. it could only be us.

  22. Major Rollins on July 31, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Thanks for sharing this information with us. Hearing from GenZ is insightful and useful for understanding how that generation thinks, feels and acts. You also gave us what to do and not just where that generations stands, so helpful.

    • Dillon Smith on July 31, 2020 at 11:52 am

      So glad to help!

  23. TDuncan on July 31, 2020 at 9:37 am

    Right. On. Point.
    I am a Gen Xer trying to figure out how to minister to the children of Gen X/Millenials. This is EXACTLY the information I need right now as I’m trying to put together a new Middle School ministry that is all online. The only thing good about the pandemic is that it is forcing me online. And I think it is radically changing my ministry.
    The points about Apps, Diversity, LGBTQ and Mental Health are HUGE. I see it already in my discussions with my 11-13 year olds. The parents however are stuck in Generation old white church… The Pastor and I are probably some of the only hope that these kids will have a safe place to grow their Christian faith despite their parents…It’s a daunting task that I never aspired to and I feel like Jonah… Thank you for this article!

    • Dillon Smith on July 31, 2020 at 11:53 am

      Wow, you are in a tough spot. I’m so glad to help how I can.

      Maybe you could send this article out to some of the parents?

      Cheering you on!

    • Mike Sheley on August 6, 2020 at 10:41 pm

      I lead our church’s ministry for 10-14 year olds and also found this post inspiring and challenging. If there’s a way we can connect and exchange ideas. I’d enjoy collaborating as we innovate!

  24. Robin G Jordan on July 31, 2020 at 9:33 am

    I thought that I would add my two-cents. I am sure that the previous generation thought that Boomers ere going through a phase too and would outgrow it. We didn’t. I don’t see why anyone in my generation or a subsequent generation would think that Generation Z was going through a phase. There are two constants in this world. One is Jesus; the other is change. Every generation is different. Sure, each generation has things in common but their life experiences are different. I can remember a time when my family did not have a phone, TV, electricity, or running water. We had a cistern that caught water from the roof. We purified the water with halazone tablets and then boiled it. We had a wireless (radio) that ran on batteries. Times change; people change. I know a lot of Generation Z’ers from my university. They are great people. I regret that we are passing on such a messed up world to them.

  25. T Jack on July 31, 2020 at 8:44 am

    I wholeheartedly agree, this is a great article with excellent advice. It’s also not just relevant for gen z, I feel many of these things as a gen x as well. I do have to say that I think there needs to be more under diversity. I’m completely done with churches that are complimentarian, done like dinner, and churches that are unwelcoming and unloving towards lgbt people. These are basic human rights issues, regardless of how eloquently you want to argue theology. My family and I, consisting of two gen x, a millennial, and a gen z won’t argue, we will just move on.

    I noted that every single source Dillon used was from a male in leadership, if I were church shopping that would be my first red flag. Creating diversity and demonstrating equality is a top down initiative in both subtle and overt ways, leaders should be cognizant of the message they are sending without words.

    Overall, great article with great points. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Keith Harcombe on July 31, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Thank you Dillon for this insightful and straight-to-the-point article.
    I am sending this article to my Gen Zer and will ask the same questions of them.

    Please lead the church in the next era!
    Also, what is your insta handle?

    • Dillon Smith on July 31, 2020 at 11:55 am

      I hope that conversation is great!

      My Insta handle is @dillon_m_smith 🙂

  27. Keith Harcombe on July 31, 2020 at 8:40 am

    This is an excellent article Dillon. I am sending it to my Gen Zer’s and asking them the same questions.
    Thank you for this insightful and straight-to-the -point piece on the church today.
    Please lead the church in this next era! What is your insta handle?

  28. Rev. Elizabeth Woodruff on July 31, 2020 at 8:29 am

    Thank you for the insightful article that does a good job on examining GEN Z in terms of discipleship and listing actual recommended solutions of how discipleship take place.

  29. Lexi on July 31, 2020 at 8:24 am

    I would also add having darn good answers for LGBTQIA+ issues. The biggest hurdle to church I see in my generation. Gen Z comes to church, but then they find out the church is accepting but not affirming, and they leave.

    • christopher on July 31, 2020 at 8:52 am

      I agree with you that the Church needs to find a way to engage these issues…but could you elaborate your thought on the church being “accepting but not affirming”?

      • NSL on July 31, 2020 at 8:12 pm

        Amen! To be honest, I think this is more a representation of “Gen Z” in an entitled, all about me, North American context, and not the rest of the world. We got plenty of passionate, radical Gen Z in Asia, Latin Americas and other parts of the world who willingly risk their lives for the gospel. Run into a flawed churches with no lasers, smoke machines and “production” teams to set the atmosphere. Who understand that Jesus said “Take up your cross and follow me.” not “I’ll take up your cross, follow you and be your little genie in a bottle for you to let out when you have needs.” It may be hard to believe but there are actually Gen Z’s who actually find Jesus and what He’s done on the cross to be enough reason to lay down their lives for without having to be “entertained” by pastors week after week. God indeed help His church in North America. The Gospel Rains indeed is moving across the nation’s. Blessed are those nations who bow to His Lordship rather than make Him conform to theirs.

    • Holly on August 1, 2020 at 10:43 pm

      I agree about having a more significant way to address the LGBTQIA+ issues. I’m Gen X and my daughter is Gen Z. She’s trans. I left my last church because the pastor made derogatory remarks about LGBT people and transgender in particular. Because I had been heavily involved with the church, they called me to ask why I was leaving. I explained that my daughter was LGBT and we didn’t feel welcome there. The secretary said, “Well, it can be hard to watch your child live a life of sin.” NO. Not only was that the wrong way to lead me back, it also isn’t in line with what I believe Jesus would do. I believe that Jesus would show acceptance and welcome to everyone. There is nothing in the Bible that says he died for everybody except groups X, Y and Z. I haven’t been back to church since.

      • david on August 1, 2020 at 11:25 pm

        Wow!! You must have a different Bible than us!

        • Holly on August 2, 2020 at 1:45 pm

          There are many different ways to interpret the Bible; that’s why there are so many churches. By saying “you must have a different Bible than the rest of us” you’re immediately setting us into an us vs. you scenario. How very welcoming. But I agree that this is an issue you’ll have to deal with because it’s part of Gen Z and the parents who love them. If you can’t find a way to become more inclusive of them, you’ll continue to see high numbers who want nothing to do with church.

  30. An Wingert on July 31, 2020 at 4:00 am

    I agree it isn’t safe to go into a Catholic church.

    I was a 3-4 X/week,50 year plus, cradle Roman Catholic watching the pedophile crisis in horror, especially when the previous entity in possession of the vatican compared women who want to be priests to pedophiles. Then the PA bishops ordered all the priests to blatantly lie about PA Bill 1947 which extended the statute of limitations on pedophiles. I complained to my local priest; who handed out the “Catholic’ League’s Essay “Women’s Moral Descent” with its theme that men have the right and moral obligation to decide which women deserve to be raped. I called my daughter at college, crying, saying that all the priests were depraved perverts totally dedicated to worshipping their dicks. Her response, “Duh, Mom! I’m sorry you had to figure it out in such a painful way.

    The Australian canon lawyer and the sociologist published two documents. The first is a legal report entitled “Canon Law – A Systemic Factor in Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.” (Free download from National Catholic Reporter) written for the Australian government. The second is the lay version “Potiphar’s Wife.” (Buy on line for real money). I verified the information with the author of the second book and the legal firm from the movie Spotlight. A third is “Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church; An Interpretive Review of the Literature and Public Inquiry Report” another free download through the Center for Global Research; School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT Both books thoroughly document how the vatican ORDERED the bishops to protect the pedophiles starting 100 years ago. They include more detail on the Pontifical Secret that Francis just abolished.

    • Will Lyon on July 31, 2020 at 9:09 am

      The article went into detail about how to be honest, accepting and non-judgmental, and then this bizarre and offensive opinion about the Catholic Church. It has all the aspects of someone who has spent too much time in shutdown isolation. The sin of child abuse, and other sex scandals, occurred all too often in the Catholic Church, but also in every Christian Church… there are no holier than thou’s when it comes to this issue. Carey, please take down this offensive and likely untrue by Ms. Wingret, if that is the persons real name.

      • PC on May 23, 2021 at 7:55 am

        Umm, well… Back to Dillon’s 7 characteristics that can’t be ignored… Thanks, very helpful! Remember, there is a generation coming after Gen Z, and they also can’t be ignored so we better get busy. Let’s not change the Truth… But let’s be the Truth… And live lives that truly reflect Jesus! Also… why is everyone acting like LGBTQ is New… it’s an old issue that has already been addressed… Not New. If someone is professing to be a Believer in Christ, it is an act of love to Rebuke when needed. An open Rebuke is better than hidden love… I don’t think this is only for LGTBQ but we all have to follow the same practices, who call ourselves citizens of His Kingdom (or nation). There are incorrect lists throughout the “Church”, our goal should be to speak the truth (in Love) and disciple this who are willing… so nothing has changed in that regard ❤

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