Understanding Your Students Part 2
Student ministry stands at a very pivotal time where we have before us a new generation rising within our ministries. Generation Z has been a generation we are learning about recently, and we as ministries have a choice, are we going to adapt to this new generation or keep doing what we were doing?
I would say that the wise thing is that we begin to change and adapt to a new generation that sits in our ministries regularly. Reading through many books over the last 10-12 months, I have learned a lot, and I think that for each ministry to grow, they need to know about their students.
Generation Z has one of the shortest attention spans in history. Why does that matter? We must be applying that knowledge to our games, messages, and our discipleship methods. The attention span could be looked at as a negative, but I think that we can use this information as a positive thing. We can realize that we need to apply different angles and illustrations at specific points to keep students attentive. I know that we do that now but think about adding more examples and application points throughout your message to keep the attention span of the students. When we begin to use illustrations and application points, it allows for students to relate and be drawn back in.
Mentorship is a key within Generation Z. They have a lot of questions, and they are in the midst of battling things in their life, and they need to have someone pour into their lives and help answer these questions they are fighting with daily. I was reading in Meet Generation Zby James Emery White recently about Generation Z, and one thing that stood out was that they are leaderless and looking everywhere to get their information about tough questions they are battling with daily.
We as a ministry and a church need to begin to walk beside them help them figure out the answers to these questions. The local church has potential to invite Generation Z to come into the worship facility and serve. This generation possibly beats out the millennials when it comes to giving back and community service. I have implemented ways within our local church to invite students to come in and serve.
Our churches need to create jobs and responsibilities for students to come in and serve. It is a creative way to disciple students but also helps them to serve right away in the local church. I have found that this has led to students get plugged in and have significant ownership within our student ministry. I think we need to meet with students and have them study God’s word, but also give them a place to live out their faith and talents within the church.
David Kinnaman in You Lost Me writes, “I believe we need to change from an industrialized, mass-production, public-education approach and embrace the messy adventure of relationship. We need a new set of ideas and practices based on apprenticeship.”
Work Ethic/Online Connection
Generation Z is plugged into technology, and that also means that their work ethic is affected by technology. I am a millennial, and I am excited to see a shift and a change in the work ethic being driven by technology. Generation Z will be and already has broken down the traditional work ethic and times. Working 9-5 hours are becoming null and void as this generation is constantly plugged in and can work whenever and wherever. Office hours will change, and the traditional workplace will look different. But what does this have to do with Student Ministry you ask?
Well, it has everything to do with Student Ministry. We need to use technology and have online connection points to reach students. I know that students have school, sports, jobs, and extra-curricular events pulling at their lives. Due to the constant pressures and students having a different work ethic the church must create ways to reach still and impact students.
Some creative ways to reach students would be to have a videocast set up once a week to recap what was shared in a small group or the weekly worship service. This will allow students to recap the service after the event and still be plugged in. A second option would be to have digital resources for students to work through online to have them stay active within the Student Ministry on their own time.
No matter what resources you come up with, you will be doing more to reach Generation Z. Let us as Student Pastors become creative in our approach to guide students daily in their Christian walk.