Gen Z. Millennial. Gen A. Boomer. Gen X.
We tend to make a big deal of the differences between the generations. But when I read a recent research report—The State of Religion & Young People 2023: Exploring the Sacred by Springtide Research Institute—a different takeaway struck me:
We’re a lot more alike than we are different.
We’re all humans, made in the image of God. We’re all able to look at the world around us and perceive God’s eternal power and divine nature. We’re all created to live in relationship with other people.
Most importantly, we’re all created to seek God, whether we know it or not.
EXPLORING THE SACRED
So what does this mean for youth leaders trying to advance the Gospel among the younger generations?
It means we can confidently talk to them about spiritual things. The Exploring the Sacred research report says that 71% of U.S. Gen Zers have either had, or thought they might have had, a “sacred moment,” defined as:
“an experience or encounter where you feel connected with something greater than yourself, in awe of nature and creation, grateful for your existence, or deeply connected to humanity, the universe, or a higher power.”The State of Religion & Young People 2023: Exploring the Sacred
What’s more, the research indicates that Gen Zers are open to talking about these experiences. The report’s suggestions for adults emphasize:
- being eager to listen to young people as they talk about their sacred experiences.
- not hesitating to express your own faith and talk about your own sacred experiences.
- helping young people cultivate relationships with both peers and adults for the sake of exploring spirituality.
Of course, as Gospel Advancing leaders, our goal is much more than encouraging students to have some warm, fuzzy experiences. We want each of them to put their trust in Christ and enjoy continuous fellowship with Him through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
But we shouldn’t be too quick to discount these sacred moments. Instead, we should view them as opportunities for young people to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) and as springboards for us to talk to them about God and the Gospel.
Using the Ask – Admire – Admit method of sharing our faith, we can ask teens about times they’ve experienced a sacred moment (as defined above), admire something about what they share, and admit that we need Jesus—explaining the Gospel and how our own sacred moments have led us to believe it. You can also connect the dots for them by pointing to God as the author of their sacred moments.
As we practice this approach, we can also model it for our students and encourage them to use a similar method to launch Gospel conversations with their peers. After all, the Bible and its unchanging truths are relevant and life-giving for every generation.