There’s a lot of talk about generational distinctions.
Millennials have dominated the conversation for nearly a decade, but now companies are moving the conversation even younger and focusing on Gen Z. The generation that includes anyone born from about 2000–present is considerably different than their predecessors.
To use the same strategies on Gen Z as Millennials is a great way to miss an entire generation. That’s why one NFL team recently hired an 18-year-old “Gen Z guru” as a consultant on marketing, digital media, and engaging this young generation.
Much can be said about this generation, but perhaps their greatest distinction comes from their relationship to technology. While Millennials watched the internet dominate the culture during their lifetime, Generation Z has only known a world where internet connections and mobile devices are the norm.
Consider a few stats from a Google report earlier this year on Gen Z:
- 78% use a smartphone compared to just 69% using a desktop or laptop computer
- 68% make online purchases
- 71% watch three or more hours per day of online video
Data like this drives better decisions. But how should leaders interpret this data? In other words, what should actually change in your church in order to better engage this generation of teenagers?
It starts with being a missionary.
Mobile is a mission field.
Churches are familiar with traditional opportunities for missions, like domestic work or extended international trips. But with Gen Z, the greatest mission field is their mobile device. Engaging them on that familiar platform gives churches a chance to move these teens towards the next steps of spiritual growth.
So what can churches do now to engage this mobile first mindset? Here are four things:
1. Make it easy to give online.
68 percent of teens already make online purchases, so spending money from their mobile device is a familiar habit to them. Having an easy-to-use online giving platform like the Pushpay app enables this generation to give in a way that’s incredibly familiar to them. They represent $44 billion in purchasing power.
2. Produce and curate video content.
According to the Google survey, 71 percent of teens report watching three hours or more of online video per day. Online video is expected to be almost 80 percent of total internet traffic in a few years.
3. Get them involved in church communications.
Digitally savvy teens are skilled at creating a message and growing an online audience. Whether it’s through social media channels or YouTube videos, they have a natural ability to create content that connects with people. Leverage these unique skills by equipping them as volunteers in your overall communications strategy.
4. Show them how to use their devices for good.
According to the Google report, getting a new phone is the third biggest milestone for Gen Z behind high school graduation and getting a driver’s license. One 17 year old said, “When I got a phone, it was really important socially. It was like, oh my gosh, you’re accepted now. Everyone wanted to be your friend because you got a new phone.” A device is an important part of their lives, and they need someone to show them how it can be a tool for good. Don’t condemn the device; instead, show how they can use it serve others and make a positive impact.
The mobile mindset of Gen Z is a snapshot of the overall shift in our culture.
Our smartphones and other mobile devices are becoming the center of life for all ages. Reaching this generation through it is but a tipping point of the change that is coming in your church. Win Gen Z through mobile now, and you’ll reach far more people in the future.
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