Engaging Gen Z in the Gospel and Mission

EMQ » October–December 2022 » Volume 58 Issue 4

By Heather Pubols

My husband and I recently hosted some old friends and their two teenage sons in our home. During their visit, their oldest son told us about his journey into Orthodox Christianity. It started with watching videos about Orthodox Christianity online. As his curiosity grew, he decided to visit an Orthodox church which he discovered through a Google search. Then he participated in a months-long catechism course, and at the end of the course, he joined the church. As he shared his account with us, we noted his genuine excitement, and high level of commitment.

His story reveals a couple of unique qualities of Generation Z. For one, as the first digital native generation, life for Gen Z is inextricably bound together with the internet.[i] It plays a large role in influencing significant decisions. And with 94% of teens across 20 countries reporting watching online videos online every day,[ii] video content is particularly important. His story also shows a longing for something deeper, more transcendent, and more beautiful. In fact, James Choung points out in his article in this issue that this quest for beauty is a key Gen Z characteristic.

At the same time, James Emery White describes Gen Z as the first “truly post-Christian generation” – at least in the US. The substantial rise of the religiously unaffiliated in Gen Z exposes that abandoning the church is increasingly common.[iii] Even as Christianity continues to grow, particularly in Africa, Pew Research predicts Islam could overtake Christianity as the dominant world religion in 40 years, due in part because fewer young people in the West are Christian.[iv]

What does this mean as missionaries worldwide seek to develop transformative relationships with the next generation? How do we effectively engage Gen Z with the gospel and mission?

This issue of EMQ is dedicated to helping you think through how to answer these questions. Missionary practitioners and leaders, like you, want to see the next generation reached and reaching others with the gospel. In here, you’ll find articles from them that consider the unique strengths and challenges of Gen Z, both in North America and worldwide, and look at theological and practical approaches to effectively minister to and mobilize this younger generation.

At the end of this edition, you’ll find two articles in our extras section. One explores ways to welcome disabled people as missions participants and the other examines a framework to help teams working in cross-cultural contexts to thrive.

Read the October 2022 issue online.

Heather Pubols
Editorial Director

[i] Barna, Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation (Ventura, CA: Barna Group and Impact 360), 12.

[ii] OneHope, Global Youth Culture: Insights from a Digital Generation (Pompano Beach, FL: OneHope), 28.

[iii] Barna, Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation (Ventura, CA: Barna Group and Impact 360), 26.

[iv] “The Changing Global Religious Landscape,” Pew Research Center, April 5, 2017, https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2017/04/05/the-changing-global-religious-landscape/.

EMQ, Volume 58, Issue 2. Copyright © 2022 by Missio Nexus. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from Missio Nexus. Email: EMQ@MissioNexus.org.