Gen Z is changing the landscape of evangelism. Researchers have already written volumes about Generation Z, born 1997 or later, but my teammates and I wanted answers to some specific questions: How do Gen Z students receive and use Cru tools and strategies? How do Cru staff members perceive their students?
For our “Listening Tour” this Fall, we interviewed 92 Cru staff members from 33 states; I personally interviewed 17. Many adults picture today’s students as always looking at their phones and having no face-to-face conversation skills, but the information gleaned from our staff painted a different picture for us.
A typical Cru student cares deeply about people, especially her friends and family. She desires to tell her friends and others about Jesus, but she struggles with the fear of offending people. Sometimes she even wonders if it’s “okay” to tell someone they need to trust Jesus. She doesn’t know much about the Bible, so she enjoys studying it with others, but her time is limited because of classes and other commitments. Just thinking about her schedule makes her feel overwhelmed! Despite dealing with anxiety and loneliness, she can make just about anyone feel welcome. She asks good questions and shares her own life in a way that’s winsome.
A typical nonbelieving student has a very negative view of Christianity, and it would take a lot to change his mind – a lot more than someone trying to read him a little booklet. To be honest, though, he’s interested in what other people believe. He would probably be open to having a discussion about Jesus with someone he trusts, like a friend who would actually listen to his point of view. But building that kind of trust takes time.
It’s no wonder that traditional outreach methods are losing effectiveness with Gen Z. But newer tools and strategies are bearing fruit – ones that foster conversation, allow students to share their stories and help build friendships between Christians and nonbelievers.
This Christmas as we celebrate the birth of the Savior who came to seek and save the lost, please take time to pray for God to work in the hearts of Gen Z students all around the country. Pray that God would grant wisdom to our Innovation team as we create fresh, new ways to connect students to Jesus and train other Cru staff members to do the same.
Thank you for your partnership in creating fresh, new ways to connect students to Jesus!
PS: I have a special treat for you! This video (https://tinyurl.com/y33vynaj) by my good friends in Cru Music is a complete Christmas concert that presents the gospel. The video was shared with federal and state prisons and local county jails in 49 states for inmates to view on facility-distributed tablets! Please enjoy and share!