USA (MNN) – Among younger generations, the irreligious population is growing. Among Generation Z college students this presents challenges and opportunities for ministry.
Millennials show a decreasing belief in God and views on the importance of religion according to the Pew Research Center. Now, further research is showing the generation behind them, Gen Z, is continuing this slump with only 39 percent ranking spirituality as important. Read more here.
Reaching Generation Z
Born after 1997, Generation Z is beginning to enter college. On-campus ministries are beginning to encounter a generation that is largely un-reached, sometimes hostile, and often curious.
“We’re dealing with a population that aren’t even Christmas-Easter Christians…They’ve never held a Bible in their hand. They’d never had somebody offer to pray for them,” says York Moore, National Evangelist for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Executive Director of Catalytic Partnerships.
Moore is finding students are curious about religious practices and religious communities. He believes Scripture can answer the great questions of this generation and address justice and suffering.
Ideas of conversion or evangelism are negatively received among a section of generation Z. Particularly those concerned with ideology and worldview.
“The idea of seeking to convert somebody to convince them of a different ideology is seen as more than a microaggression. It’s actually seen as an injustice,” Moore says. “…they’re seeing the Judeo Christian narrative as not just a dominant worldview, but a dangerous and unjust worldview.”
With this generation, he believes the community and vulnerable body of Christ is the path to reaching them. Though he recognizes how issues of gender and sexual orientation can create a line in the sand.
Among the lower number of Christian students, Moore sees a more authentic group of young people. The social benefit of Christianity has disappeared with the increasing negativity towards religion in secular environments.
“We’re finding is that the kinds of students that are willing to call themselves Christians are qualitatively different than they were 10-15 years ago because there’s really no benefit to following Christ unless
you’re really following Christ,” Moore says.
Christian students face persecution and suspicion on the administrative level, he says. But this has yet to bleed into the student population. Regardless, university chapter planting is quickly expanding around the country through organizations like InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. One Hundred and Fifty organizations have joined forces via Every Campus and they’ve never seen so many students come to faith.
The Future of the Young Church
“Students, particularly undergraduate students, are uniquely open to the gospel. Yes, there are these challenges. Yes, there are these concerns. But the reality is, there’s a window of opportunity right in front of us right here right now that we need to step into while that window is open,” Moore says.
Despite the growth, it’s largely at 800 campuses with a historical presence. Of 4,948 campuses in the US that’s not even half.
Moore describes a deteriorating situation that revival not strategy is not going to solve.
“I believe things are going to get progressively worse. Simultaneously, God is going to actually send a new wave of power of revival,” he says.
Join the Wave of Revival
Commit to covering the 4,948 American campuses in prayer. Physically walk and pray on the campuses near you. Find a campus here and further resources here. Encourage your church to adopt a campus. Host a Bible study, provide snacks. Most of all, pray for revival among the church.