Introduction to our ‘Make Room’ series

This is the first study in the sermon series ‘Make Room’. The purpose of the series is to build stronger relationships across the generations, as well as within and between different families and households. The Church is a diverse community that welcomes every generation and household to connect and contribute to our common life together.

The key focus area for this series is on developing disciples who make disciples, but with a particular emphasis on building unity. Unity isn’t uniformity, here at CityLife we strive to maintain unity in diversity, 1 Corinthians 12. 
“Diversity - we are a unified church. Our goal is to bridge racial, cultural, gender, socio-economic and generational gaps so as to create a community where all people can relate together in a spirit of love and unity.”

This study is designed to begin the conversation around the discipleship and spiritual formation of the next generation (Generation Z). Our hope is to empower and equip our congregation to better relate and disciple the next generation.

Who is responsible to disciple the next generation? 
Although we live in a highly individualist society, the Hebraic understanding of the faith community was corporate and involved everyone, together. We believe the saying to be true ‘it takes a village to raise a child’
Psalm 78:1-4 (NIV)
My people, hear my teaching;
    listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
    I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3 things we have heard and known,
    things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
    his power, and the wonders he has done.

It is our mandate as a church family to point the next generation to Jesus the way those who have gone before us did for us.

So why is it so important to reach the next generation? 
According to The Barna Research Group 77% of people come to know Jesus before the age of 21.  Statistics show that the majority of people who make a decision to follow Jesus do so in their formative years before the age of 21! The statistics are very low on people making that life altering decision as mature adults. 
 
Matthew 9:36-38 (NIV)
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Sadly, we are seeing lots of young people leave church. The latest research in America shows that nearly two-thirds of 18–29-year-olds who grew up in church have withdrawn from church involvement as an adult after having been active as a child or teen. In fact, the percentage of young-adult dropouts has increased from 59% in 2011 to 64% in 2019.

The top three reasons for walking away from church include 
• I want to find a way to follow Jesus that connects with the world I live in.
• God is more at work outside the Church than inside, and I want to be a part of that.
• I want to be a Christian without separating myself from the world around me.

We believe that we can change this! First, we need to know who we are ministering to in order to be able to reach them effectively.

Who is the next generation, ‘Generation Z’?
The next generation, Generation Z is usually defined as those born between 1995-2010, so those currently aged between 10 and 25 years old.

Questions: 

  • Do you have anyone in your immediate or extended family who are classified as ‘Gen Z’? 
  • Who are they and what is your relationship with them?
  • Do you know anyone in this age category? 
  • Who are they and what is your relationship with them?


The generations and their characteristics, including the way they communicate and interact, are changing so quickly. Sometimes it might feel overwhelming trying to keep up with the ‘lingo’, the technological advances and the new ways in which we are supposed to reach this next generation.

Questions: 
  • How do we bridge these generation gaps to reach the next generation for the gospel?
  • 'The gospel message never changes, but the method in which it is proclaimed should’ – Discuss this quote. Do you agree? Why or why not? 
  • Hint: Think about how Jesus preached in the gospels. He used parables, but why? And what images were the parables using?


Listed below are a few generalised characteristics of Gen Z. 
1. Post Christian
They are the first generation in the West to be raised in a post- Christian context. 
Channel 7 recently released an article showing the data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that Christianity has dropped more than 30% since 1966, while the rise of people identifying with ‘no religion’ has risen to 30%.

With no Christian heritage or religious background Gen Z are the most Biblically illiterate generation so far. When reaching this generation we need to assume no prior knowledge of the Bible, Biblical stories (including Christmas and Easter!) keeping in mind that this generation has probably gotten their only Biblical knowledge from TV shows such as the Simpsons. 
Questions: 
  • What does this mean for us as a church? 
  • How does this change the way that we preach, teach and reach the next generation? 


2. Digital Natives
This generation have been born with the internet in their pocket, having access to information at their fingertips. This means that information isn’t necessarily their greatest need from the church. What they do lack is the mentors and leaders in their lives to be able to bring wisdom as to how to unpack, how to critically think and to discern how to apply the information they have. 
They are also socially and globally connected via social media. 
Questions: 
  • What does being a ‘digital native’ or being ‘socially/globally connected’ mean for us as the church? 
  • How can we meet the needs that arise in this area?


3. Other characteristics 
Generation Z are multiracial and multicultural which leads to having a strong sense of social justice.

We need to understand that this generation are much more accepting of things that were not always deemed socially acceptable.

Freedom of choice and personal opinion are of high value.

This generation value authenticity and are motivated by a sense of purpose around a good cause.

They have a much shorter attention span than any other generation and tend to value experience over information, driven by emotion rather than fact.

Valuing experience leans towards a need for participation and involvement in order to feel that sense of belonging.

Conclusion 
The way Generation Z interact and experience church is different.

This generation who has the world at their fingertips values connection over content when it comes to church life. Having strong, authentic relationships is a driving factor alongside their need for participation in a cause they believe in. They want to know there is purpose and meaning behind what they are doing and what they are doing is making a difference. 
Questions: 
  • With these characteristics in mind, how can we as the church reach this generation? 
  • What things might they need in order to feel a sense of belonging or that they are contributing significantly to the life of our church?


How can we get involved in creating a space in our church for the next generation? 
Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Questions: 
  • Who is responsible to disciple the next generation? 
  • Who is responsible to create a church culture and environment for the next generation to participate and feel welcomed in our church? 

Proverbs 1:7-8
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools[c] despise wisdom and instruction.
8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

1. Parents are the primary disciplers in their child’s life
• Spend far more hours with the child than church 
• Parents to PARTNER with the church
2. It takes a village to raise a child - Become a mentor or leader in generational ministry 
• Whether you have kids or not, you can be a role model for young people

Conclusion:
Discipling young people involves us all. Every one of us contributes to the culture of our church family. The question is, what sort of culture are we creating at CityLife? Are we creating a culture that welcomes and values young people? Are we fostering an environment where they feel heard and seen? Or are we creating one in which they feel ostracized, judged or criticised?

We have always seen CityLife Church as being a multigenerational church. A great resource is a book written on some of the findings coming out of Fuller Seminary called ‘Growing Young’. These findings suggest that the older generations in church bring wisdom, stability, (money) and maturity to the church while the younger generations bring the energy, innovation and fresh perspectives. All generations need each other! There needs to be cross generational discipleship. Let’s continue to be a church that welcomes ALL generations.

If you would like to get involved in generational ministry (KIDS, Youth, YA), whether it be in a mentoring capacity, leadership, coaching or just find out more information, email us at Youth@citylife.church 

Resources:
https://thinkorange.com/ 
Youth Ministry 3.0 – Mark Oestreicher 
Growing Young – Kara Powell 
Meet Generation Z – James Emery White 

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