Archives For Personal Discipleship Resources

How do I help those I am discipling to understand and identify the emotions they feel?

This year, we’ve been investing in a series on mental health to support our students, staff and young people. As part of this, in Bicester and Witney we’ve put some time into understanding Emotional Intelligence.

The GreenHouse Gap Year students have been very fortunate to have had different mental health practitioners come in and run workshops with us.  We learned a lot and we grew a lot.

We’d love to share some of their insights with you – in the hope that they can be useful for yourself and be resources for other those you might be journeying with.

Perceiving Emotions

Perceiving emotions is a crucial step in handling emotions with maturity.  We are used to just feeling what we feel without reflecting on the why’s behind our emotions.  To overcome that lack of awareness, we set out to track out our emotions.

For a week, all of the GreenHouse Gap Year students and leaders documented our emotions with the help of ‘Mood Trackers’. By tracking our moods daily we began to see the patterns, scope, and range of emotions which we have throughout the week.

Both Gap Year students and staff have begun to share their new insights and revelations found in tracking their moods. Ready to embark on their next step in Understanding emotions. 

We found many downloadable mood trackers online like this one. You can download one, or make your own simple form.

Understanding Emotions

How do we help those we are discipling to learn to perceive their emotions? And, at the same time, how do we learn that emotions do not have to drive our behaviours? Jon Bloom shares that;

“God designed your emotions to be gauges, not guides. They’re meant to report to you, not dictate you. The pattern of your emotions (not every caffeine-induced or sleep-deprived one!) will give you a reading on where your hope is because they are wired into what you believe and value — and how much.

“That’s why emotions like delight (Psalm 37:4), affection (Romans 12:10), fear (Luke 12:5), anger (Psalm 37:8), joy (Psalm 5:11), etc., are so important in the Bible. They reveal what your heart loves, trusts, and fears.”

Jon Bloom – Your Emotions Are a Gauge Not a Guide

You can find Jon Bloom’s article in its entirety here. It is well worth the read!

Tools to Reflect on Emotions

Helping people reflect on their emotions is so important to guide them into emotional maturity. Here are two resources you can use. These help us to see we have a choice in how we respond to our emotions. And, how we choose to not be ruled by emotions.

Reflection tool 1

You are driving by and notice an emotion. You slow down and let it hop inside.

  • can you identify the emotion?
  • What are you going to do now you have let it come inside the car?
  • Are you going to move over and put it in the driver’s seat?
  • Is it going in the Passenger seat? Back Seat?

You have the choice of whether you let the emotion drive you. Or be next to you, giving you directions. Or, be a back seat passenger, not in control but still present. Even thrown in the boot and not given a chance to affect the journey! 

Reflection Tool 2

A train (emotion) goes by every minute. Am I going to get on it or do I just let the train pass me by? Where is the train going to take me? Do I want to go there? Does it match with the destination I am trying to get to?

Like the list of stations telling us the drop off points on a train line, our emotions can do similar things. If you can be aware of what track a certain emotion will take you on, you can begin to manage your emotions. Manage your emotions in a more healthy way by choosing whether to ‘board that train’ or board another that leads to the place of your choosing. 

This has been a very quick snapshot of some of the things we have been discussing around emotional maturity. We hope you can glean some useful pieces to take away and use these to support others in their journeys.

If you’d like any more information on any subjects mentioned in this article or source materials, then please do get in touch. We’ve found these examples and talking points extremely useful and we hope you do too.

featured image – https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/emoji-faced-young-friends_4246727.htm

Our ‘Born to Reproduce’ huddle has always been a highlight of the year! A huddle we’ve continued to use to inspire and equip all GH’ers on the topic of discipleship.

The curse of today is that we are too busy. I don’t mean being busy earning money to buy food. We are busy doing Christian things. We have spiritual activity with little productivity. Productivity comes as a result of what we call “Follow-up”’

D Trotman

Busy Doing Christian Things…

Huddling three times per week, our Greenhouse Gap Year Students come together to grow and develop in their spiritual and ministry journeys.

The trusty little pamphlet we use for this session was written by Billy Graham’s ministry partner Dawson Trotman. It compiles their years of experience of one-on-one discipleship into 24 small pages packed with tips and hope!

The curse of today is that we are too busy. I don’t mean being busy earning money to buy food. We are busy doing Christian things. We have spiritual activity with little productivity. Productivity comes as a result of what we call “Follow-up”’

Born to Reproduce – D Trotman

The quote above has often been so true for me in the past. Year after year our students go out into the world and get involved with businesses, charity’s, churches and further education. Often calendars begin to fill up with commitments, church activities hobbies and more. 

The activity is there but is productivity?

Productivity is described as having an eternal effect. Discipling another to disciple another is a priority that Trotman inspires us to act on rather than just being ‘busy’ to feel that we are accomplishing kingdom goals.  

We must prioritise time and relationship with those we are discipling.  Making time for that fortnightly coffee & catch-up with those you can invest in and journey alongside with, for example. This is such a vital part in helping a young Christian into spiritual maturity. 

Creating Time to Be Relational

So, if you’re like me, often struggling with being too busy doing ‘Christian things’ we want to encourage you to pause and consider your diary.  Where can you re-organise your schedule? How can you prioritise time to closely journey with those hungry for more of Jesus?

If you would like to re-read Born to Reproduce, or discover it for your youth ministry team, then attached is a link to the book (PDF). It is well worth the 15 minutes it takes to soak in its message!

Happy Reading…

Born to Reproduce – Discipleship Reading

Carina is in her first year of the degree programme working towards a BA in Theology and Mission. Her placement is split between the GreenHouse Gap Year programme and St. Mary’s Cogges church in Witney. How is God equipping her to have gospel conversations?

“Marie (name changed) and I went to school together in Austria and have been friends for a long time. Marie is a very openminded and curious person and I have intentionally taken opportunities to share my faith with her. A couple of months ago I was reading one of my favourite Christian books, and as I was reading it, I kept thinking about Marie. I felt God nudge me to send her the book. So I did.

“A few weeks later she sent me a message. She had read the book, and it inspired her to pick up her Bible and read it. Her message said: “I have questions. Can we talk about it?”.

“I was really excited but also nervous before our talk. I knew this could be a turning point in Marie’s faith journey. Marie told me that she had started reading the Bible from the beginning and as she made her way through Genesis there was one big thing she did not understand: Why is a loving God judging and punishing people?

“I was so glad she asked, because this question gave me the chance to explain the good news of Jesus to her, how he died on the cross for us to take this punishment for our sin on himself. After my explanation there were a few seconds of silence, then Marie said: “That makes so much sense!”. What an amazing moment!”

“One of the things we help our students in the GreenHouse Gap Year programme with is how to talk about Spiritual things and ultimately, have gospel conversations with our friends. On that same day that I spoke with Marie, I was preparing to teach the students about a resource we call the Pie Shape (no points for creativity, there).

“The Pie Shape is a tool which helps to illustrate what holds people back from deciding that they want to follow Jesus. Basically, there are three areas that might stop people from asking Jesus to be their leader and forgiver: knowledge, will and experience.

“One important question we must ask if we are going to grow in having gospel conversations with our friends is ‘What is holding you back from making a commitment to follow Jesus?’

The Pie-Shape

“If a person feels like they need more experiences with God, you can pray with them for specific things and help them to engage with prayer for themselves. Another good thing to do is to show them how to connect with God in different ways and help them to see how God is actively involved in their lives.

“If they think they need more knowledge ask them what they don’t understand and help them to discover the answers to their questions. You could go through the Stir Pack, an Alpha course with them or start reading the Bible together.

“If they are not making a commitment because it is a question of their will, then you can challenge them why they are sitting on the fence. There also might be some misconception about what it means to be a Christian that you need to correct.

“Back to my conversation with Marie…I asked her what she thinks she needs before she can make a commitment herself, and she said she feels like she needs more knowledge about God.

“Since that conversation, we are now Skyping nearly every week and reading through the Gospel of Luke together. Marie asks very deep questions about what we read and I am really challenged to think about these things and try to answer them as clearly as possible.

“It is exciting to see how God has worked in her life over the last few years and how she is now exploring what faith means for her own life.”

Applications are still open for our Degree and Gap Year Programmes. We would love to hear your story, so get in touch by following the above links.

We also have a new cycle of our volunteer training starting in January 2020. This community of like-minded learners is a place where you can train your volunteer team about discipleship and set a vision for your youth ministry.

We are kicking off our blog series ‘Understanding Gen Z’. You may be wondering where we got our info from? Or, you may be interested in learning more? Here is a list of our sources and recommended research to learn all things Gen Z.

This is our recommended reading on this topic. We always love to hear from you, so if this series sparks any questions, we would love to hear from you.

You can email me by visiting our Contact Us page.

If you would like to find out more about how we are equipping leaders you can visit The Degree, Learning Community and Gap Year pages. We are still taking applications too!

Our Fave Gen Z Reports and Podcasts

Youth For Christ: Rethinking Culture

You can read their Research Here

Youth For Christ: Digital Generation

You can read this Research Here

The Gen Z Podcast

This Cultural Moment

Books

Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World by James Emery White

You can buy it on Amazon here.

Everyday Church; Mission by Being Good Neighbours – by Tim Chester

You can buy it on Amazon here.

Missional Discipleship after Christendom – by Andy Hardy and Dan Yarnell

You can buy their book on Amazon here.

Generation Z: Their Voices, Their Lives – by Chloe Combi

You can buy it on Amazon here.

Journals

Doyle and Treacy

Doyle, L. and Treacy, M.P. and Sheridan, A. (2015). ‘Self-harm in young people: Prevalence,
associated factors, and help-seeking in school-going adolescents’, International Journal of
Mental Health Nursing, 24 (6), pp. 485-495.

You can view this journal via this link.

The Internet

Barna: Perceptions of Jesus, Christians and Evangelism in the UK

The Telegraph: Britain is no Longer a Christian Country

The Telegraph: Young People Head to Church

Christianity Today: Why is Gen Z More Open to Faith?

Comparably: Comparing Compensation and Culture of Millenials & Gen Z

Gizelle Abramovich: 15 Mind Blowing Stats about Generation Z

Premier Christianity: How Can Churches Attract Millenials and Gen Z?

Sharon Florentine: Everything You Need to Know about Gen Z

It’s been said that Gen Z have endless amounts of information but virtually no mentors. So, what kind of leaders are they looking for?

Leaders Who Serve as Models

We’ve been looking at Gen Z: What Every Church Needs to Think About when trying to reach the younger generation. In this, my last post of the series, we reflect on where our lives cross with young people in Gen Z. Specifically, we ask, are we becoming leaders who Gen Z will respond to?

Historically, teachers, parents, and preachers could pass on information and knowledge to young people. However, we have found that Gen Z have endless amounts of information at their fingertips, without the help of intermediaries.

Young people will not wait to ask at youth group or Sunday services to ask about the Bible or Christian beliefs on lifestyle issues. Instead, most young people will go straight to Google or Youtube.

So, what is our role?

Youth For Christ, asked young people; “What are things that make someone trustworthy?”. An astonishing 57% of Generation Z answered, “Once they have proved themselves.”

This is the key to our primary function as missional youth leaders. If we desire to influence, we must impart true wisdom. Information we have learned, but not personally applied to our lives, will get lost like white noise.

Our job is to model. Our task is to one who can say, like the apostle Paul,

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 11:1

Leaders who Share their Lives

If we want to lead and influence, we must share our lives. And this cannot happen from a distance. Young people will not grow from us being on the stage or behind a pulpit.

We are called to teach and preach the Word, but it isn’t just for the purpose of relaying information. We now have access to the scriptures, in the West, in our pockets at anytime.

So, Gen Z’s questions are not primarily “What?”, but instead, “How?”. Like, “How do I apply these words to my life?”. In my experience, I see young people looking to me to answer the following questions:

Young People’s FAQ’s

  • What does it look like to be a Christian in everyday life?
  • What does it look like to pray?
  • What does it look like to be tempted and not give in?
  • What does it look like to mess up and have to ask for forgiveness?
  • What does it look like to resolve a conflict with friends?
  • What does it look like to sit down and have dinner with your family?
  • What does it look like to interact with the person behind the till?
  • What does it look like to be disappointed with God when our prayers aren’t answered?
  • What does it look like to cook a meal?
  • What does it look like to respond to someone who is opposed to Christians and Christianity?

Discipleship

We are youth leaders, we need to serve as role models and share our lives with our young people. This has an impact on how we choose to spend our time and how we view success.

It seems that Gen Z will not be reached in masse. Instead, ministry needs to be up close and personal. Gen Z do not need teachers as much as they need parents. They do not need preachers as much as they need pastors.

These truths may seem overwhelming to us as emerging, missional youth leaders. But feeling overwhelmed can make us ask important questions, such as;

Youth Leader FAQ’s

  • I cannot relationally lead everyone, so, who should I spend my time with?
  • I am only slightly older than the young people I am trying to lead and I haven’t had a lot of life experience yet. How do I model true wisdom?
  • I’m not sure I have ever had an older Christian model. How do I pass on something which I have never received?

These questions will hopefully drive us to realise, we cannot embark on this task of modelling and sharing life by ourselves. We learn to pour into a few young people who can in turn pour into their friends. We learn to identify and raise up a team of caring adults who can care for the few.

Caring Adults

When looking for caring adults who fit this description, there is good news! Gen Z is looking for good role models and wants to spend time with the older generations!

Premier Christianity say that Gen Z want to be included. They want to take part. They want to be mentored. Unlike Baby Boomers and Gen X who didn’t want anything to do with their elders. Gen Z want to be friends with their elders.

“They want to see that older people mean what they say about being a disciple of Jesus. They want to see what it looks like.”

Premier Christianity, 2019

We need to correct the common misconception amongst churchgoers that the best youth leaders are young. Instead, youth leaders need to be willing to open their lives to young people and serve as the kind of imperfect examples and role models which Gen Z are crying out for. 

We have a passion for seeing young people flourishing with God through discipleship. Click here for more discipleship resources and watch the video below to find out more about how we are equipping leaders through The Degree.

Want to know where we got our sources or want to learn more about Gen Z? Read our Gen Z: Recommended Reading post

Short attention spans and socially isolated. The good and bad about this internet-in-its-pocket generation.

The Smartphone

The smartphone is perhaps the most significant factor that defines the distinctive behaviours of Generation Z. Some people are beginning to label it the ‘internet-in-its-pocket generation’. In contrast to the previous generations who experienced the exciting emergence of the internet and the ability to access it anytime and anywhere, for Generation Z, the internet has always just ‘been there’.

In his book, ‘Meet Generation Z’, James Emery White highlights that teenagers spend nearly 9 hours a day absorbed by media. Sparks and Honey found 91% of Gen Z go to bed with their phones. Moreover, Giselle Abramovich found 79% of Gen Z showed symptoms of emotional distress when they aren’t able to have their personal electronic devices.

In my work with Reign Ministries equipping youth ministers our students laugh at Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and add their own “basic human needs” to the bottom of my handouts.

The impact of having a ‘supercomputer’ in one’s pocket is far-reaching. It has changed the way young people learn, where they gain knowledge, how they work and play, how long they can focus, who their friends are, how they feel about others and how they feel about themselves.

Changes in Learning

Similar to the revolution set in motion by the Gutenberg’s printing press that paved the way for information to be distributed and accessed by the common person, mobile internet devices have made knowledge and information constantly and immediately accessible to all. This carries with it many obvious blessings.

The author of this session has appreciated the way his own children have benefited from this immediate and free access to the internet when they are struggling to understand their Maths homework. Rather than trying to find time with the teacher between classes or after school, they can simply type their question into YouTube and search through a variety of instructors until they find one who can explain mathematical concepts in a teaching style best suited to their style of learning.

And, if they didn’t understand everything clearly the first time through, they can simply pause, go back and re-watch it as many times as necessary. This way of learning has obvious advantages over what the traditional classroom can offer. This ability to access information has led to a very important dynamic that is true of Generation Z…

“…the ability to find whatever they’re after without the help of intermediaries – such as libraries, shops or teachers. This has made them more independent and self-directed than generations before them.”

James Emery White, Meet Generation Z

Young people no longer need to track down an expert or find a place that sells or stores books, journals or periodicals if they want to learn about a particular topic; all the information we need is available in the palm of our hands. This ability to access seemingly limitless streams of information does not always make true learning easier, however.

“Like no other generation before, Generation Z faces a widening chasm between wisdom and information. Quentin Schultze writes that the torrent of information now at our disposal is often little more than ‘endless volleys of nonsense, folly and rumour masquerading as knowledge, wisdom and even truth.”

James Emery White referencing Quentin
Schultze (2002)

“The new task of education is to help students evaluate information.”

Chuck Kelley (2011)

Shorter Attention Span

In addition to completely transforming the way Generation Z accesses information and learns, constant connectivity to the internet has had major effects on our ability to focus on a task.

According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2015.

“…to put that in perspective, the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds!”

James Emery White, Meet Generation Z

Internet Browsing Statistics (White)

Average length watched of single internet video: 2.7 mins

Percent of page views lasting less than 4 seconds: 17

Percent of page views lasting more than 10 minutes: 4

Words read on web pages with 11 words or less, as a percentage: 49

Percent of words read on an average (593 words) web page: 28

Combine these facts with previous statistics that showed Generation Z can multitask across 5 screens, it becomes clear that this generation prefers to give attention to several things at once rather than focus on one thing at a time.

However, while conventional wisdom holds that multitasking accomplishes more, many emerging studies show that we severely overestimate our ability to multi-task successfully. Constantly switching attention between tasks is affecting our ability to problem solve.

Watch this Ted Talk by Manoush Zomorodi about “How boredom can lead to our most brilliant ideas.

Relationships

Because of Generation Z’s ability to access vast amounts of information and endless amounts of entertainment anytime, anywhere, many are concluding that this generation is the most anti-social and lonely age group to date.

However, how accurate are these conclusions? What do young people themselves have to say about the ways they would like to relate to their peers?

To answer these questions, Youth for Christ asked young people how they most like to spend their time socializing. They found 32% preferred spending time with friends outside. Moreover, 31% preferred spending time with friends at home.

In contrast, 24% preferred to socialize on the internet. But just 6% liked to spend time with peers at an out-of-school club/activity/group. Unfortunately for youth leaders like us, only 2% preferred to spend time with peers at a youth club.

We will pick up on the statistics regarding attendance at youth clubs and outside of school activities in a later session. But despite what most may assume, young people still prefer face to face interactions with their peers over interactions via a screen.

In fact, Pew Research Centre found 85% of young people love to meet up with friends in person. Only 15% of young people prefer talking through Social Media.

Globally Connected

Although Gen Z prefers socializing with their friends in person, online interactions have expanded their relationship networks. Young people use their devices to watch video content created by people from around the world, to game with friends from around the world and to interact with people from around the world. All this on a variety of social media platforms.

“…26% of Gen Z would need to fly to meet most of their social network friends.”

Sparks and Honey, 2014

This means they have not merely studied facts about other countries and cultures in a classroom, but they actually have friends from other cultures. These global friends will all have varied – and often conflicting – value systems and ways of living. And, all of these different behaviors, values and lifestyle choices seem to ‘work’ for them.

When languages and oceans separate people groups, it’s easy to become ethnocentric. However, it is much more difficult to critique a person’s worldview when you have regular personal interactions and friendships. Therefore, Generation Z is characterized by a strong sense of acceptance and inclusion.

Employers are beginning to grow more aware of these core values and are conscious to create work environments which foster them. This is shown by research conducted by Door of Clubs. In a survey, 5000 students were asked their most important value of a company when entering the workforce. Most importantly, equality was the No.1 value.

“Diversity, inclusion and belonging should be core values of your organization and can
impact your ability to attract and retain an entire generation of talent, not just talent
from underrepresented groups”

Pranam Lipinski and Sharon Florentine

In my post titled Understanding Gen Z’s Sexual Fluidity, we unpack what these tightly held beliefs may mean for the church. Also, what this means for our efforts to share the truth claims of Christianity with Generation Z.

Generation Z hasn’t rejected God as previous generations may have done. They simply don’t ever think about him. What might that mean for your church?

Teenagers Past and Present

We can be fairly certain that adolescents, since the emerging youth culture in the 20th Century until the present, have felt anxious about their place in the world. Particularly entering adulthood!

In the distant past, children would have grown up to follow in their mother’s footsteps to raise a family or followed their father to the farm or the factory.

But adolescents from around the mid-century until today have a seemingly endless array of choices and opportunities at their feet to help script their own way of life. We explore this further in Year 3 of the Youth Ministry Module, as part of The Degree.

Different Generations, Similar Priorities

Youth For Christ recently found that Generation Z possesses many of the same priorities, worries and concerns that relatively recent teenage populations like Millenials and Gen X had. You can read my earlier post if you are unfamiliar with the difference between Millenials and Gen Z.

For example, when asked about their own lives and their top worries, 54% answered “School and Exams”, and 30% “What Other People Think of Me”.

When asked about their priorities, 82% said that “Making my family proud of me”, 64% answered “Becoming Successful”. These priorities wouldn’t be far off how young people from previous generations communicated about the things that were important to them.

So those in Generation Z do share several traits common to all adolescents in recent decades. But significant differences do exist and many of them have huge implications for the church. Specifically, Generation Z hasn’t rejected God, as previous generations may have done, they simply don’t ever think about him.

Generation Z is Post-Christian

Individuals who have grown up as part of Generation Z have little or no history with God, the church or the Christian faith. It is important to note that Generation Z have not so much rejected God as much as they just have never really ‘met’ Him in the first place.


“The 2015 British Election Study showed that those who claim to have no
religious affiliation or no religious faith has risen from 3% in 1963 to 44.7%
today. Among adults aged 25 and under, the number of ‘nones’ climbed to
nearly two-thirds.”

White, 2017

This does not mean they are not interested in spiritual things. It’s just that they are turning to places other than Christianity and the church to try to connect with the spiritual realm.

This presents several challenges to the church, as the ways it has sought to engage with young people in the past may no longer prove effective.

Challenges for Starting with Parents

Because Generation Z has grown up in a fully Post-Christian culture, they often aren’t raised by Christian parents. Therefore the church will find it difficult to engage with parents as a starting point for reaching significant numbers of young people.

And even those parents who have a Christian faith are increasingly feeling overwhelmed at the task of helping to shape their children’s worldviews and beliefs. In the ‘Passing on Faith’ research conducted by Olwyn Mark, only 40% of parents said they had had a conversation about faith with their children.

Furthermore, 34% said they believed social media and technology would make a bigger impact on their children’s beliefs than their own influence (Youth for Christ, 2016, pp. 40-41 citing Olwyn Mark’s Passing on Faith research).

Challenges for Gathering Young People

I recently attended the Youth Evangelism Conference and was struck by how often the topic regarding ‘the numbers of young people leaving the church’ was mentioned. Resources and workshops were on offer that could help youth leaders in their efforts to make faith more ‘sticky’ for young people.

While we do want to want to hang on to those young people who have grown up in our ranks, the statistics regarding Generation Z make it painfully clear, the overwhelming majority of young people are not in the church in the first place.

As Tim Chester and Steve Timmis reminded us in their book Everyday Church, Mission by Being Good Neighbours:

“70% of the UK population have no intention of ever attending a church service. That means new styles of worship will not reach them. Fresh expressions of church will not reach them. Alpha and Christianity Explored courses will not reach them. Guest services will not reach them. Churches meeting in pubs will not reach them. Toddler churches meeting at the end of the school day will not reach them.

“The vast majority of un-churched and de-churched people would not turn to the church, even if faced with difficult personal circumstances or in the event of national tragedies. It is not a question of ‘improving the product’ of church meetings and evangelistic events. It means reaching people apart from meetings and events”

Young people are not coming to church services on a Sunday. And recent research amongst Generation Z also reveals they are much less likely to access youth clubs or drop-in sessions. This, coupled with the reality that young people can interact socially without leaving the comforts of their own bedrooms, does present challenges to the mission-shaped church who desires to gather young people.

Challenges in Communication

Despite the reality that fewer people are interested in coming to the church when it is gathered, especially on a Sunday morning, the church continues to place a high priority on its weekend services.

Furthermore, most churches seem to continue to place a high emphasis during these services on a spoken message that is delivered primarily as a one-way transmission.

However, due to the increase in the ability to access the internet from mobile devices – the average attention span of young people is significantly decreasing (see my post titled, Gen Z: The Internet in It’s Pocket Generation).

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, attention spans have dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8.25 seconds in 2015.

Adapting our Communications

The church has been bound by Jesus and by the early apostles to preach and teach the Word. We do not have a choice on whether or not to do this. But the church does have a choice regarding how it is done. What impact should decreasing attention spans have on how the church communicates its message in this culture?

Much more reflection will need to take place by church leaders and youth leaders working with Generation Z in order to be more effective in how we communicate. But James Emery White offers an initial and very helpful take:

“(Generation Z) communicates in bite sizes…Bottom line? Whatever it is we
are attempting to convey, much less explain, will need to be communicated more frequently in shorter bursts of ‘snackable content”

James Emery White, Meet Generation Z

Reason for Hope

The reality that Generation Z has grown up with little or no awareness of God, coupled with the challenges of attracting young people to church outreaches or programmes, may cause today’s youth leaders to feel overwhelmed and want to give up before they even start. But the news is not all bad.

Experts who have been studying Generation Z and church leaders who have been working with them, sense a growing curiosity amongst this age group. Like all good ‘postmoderns’, Generation Z appears sceptical of organised religion, but they are not anti-God or anti-Jesus.

While the previous generation has essentially been ‘inoculated against faith’ by the adults who raised them, it’s because of this that Generation Z is now curious. Gen Z has virtually no awareness of the Christian faith, which causes them to be open to exploring it when presented with the opportunity.

In the following post, we explore the topic of What kind of leaders will Gen Z respond to?

Other posts by Darin on the topic of Gen Z include How to tell a Millennial from a Gen Z, Gen Z: Understanding Gen Z’s Sexual Fluidity, and Gen Z: Understanding the Internet-in-it’s-Pocket Generation.

Want to know where we got our sources about Gen Z? Read our Gen Z: Recommended Reading post

“This is the closest description of what we’ve seen the team develop in. It’s drawing upon the strengths and talents God has given each of us – and using that in a team for His Glory. To make Him famous!”

Emily Spicer, Moveolution Europe Team, Moldova 2019

It has been one week since our Moveolution Europe team landed back in the UK from their 10-day mission trip in Moldova. How did God stir up faith in the community and our team?

From Moldovan-style horse and carriage commutes to sharing the love of God with over 65 children, our team were taken on a whirlwind of a journey with God this February.

We partner with OM Moldova, a mission organisation who started sharing the love of God in Moldova by smuggling Bibles into the country during the Soviet reign, to reach children and families in Palanca.

“Having the pastor share his vision on the first night then enabled our team to know how to partner, get on board and be one cohesive team working together. “

Emily, in our team, helped keep us updated while in Palanca, Moldova. You can read her awesome diary updates for further reading, but here are some of our highlights from this years mission trip.

“We thank God because it has been the most incredible experience, living in the wonderful village of Palanca.”

Moveolution Europe Team, Moldova 2019

Time with God

The team started each day in quiet time with God, centred around a morning talk with one of our partners. This quiet time was an incredible way to focus on how God was speaking to the team and the Moldovan people and to put Him at the centre of our lives.

“At first it may have seemed a lot, but has been a divine treasure for truth and talking point amongst the team,” Emily shared. “It starts the day with God first and our priority, which is a model for life back home.”

The team felt encouraged to praise God and give thanks in all circumstances for what He has already done and promised – before the situation! The team’s trust in God grew and each step unfolded with God’s provision.

Time with God helped the team grow spiritually and ignited communications with God. Reflecting on God moving in the situations and praising Him for how he was working in Palanca brought a model for back home!

Family Visits

Visiting families in their homes was an amazing way to share the love God has for the people in Moldova.

Each house was different, however the team all agreed that the Moldovan people are all extremely hospitable. The team were deeply touched by their need and love for God!

Visiting the families was an incredible opportunity to share our story, pray for their individual needs and listen to the circumstances of the families.

“When visiting people in houses it was challenging to be in small groups – but it meant we were encouraged to speak up and share our story”.

Moved by the powerful stories of the families, our team were so encouraged to share the stories of how God had moved in their lives. Many families faced difficult circumstances, who needed the hope of Jesus.

“A lot of houses we went to wanted us to pray for health because the access to healthcare isn’t great,” shared Ali. “A lot of Moldovan’s struggle to make it to 60,70 years of age; they work hard young and get worn down.”

The team gave food parcels to the families to help nourish their bodies and told stories of hope to bring the love of God in those situations.

“Refreshing and real, the experience of house visits has been a mixture of challenge and inspiration”

In the home of one of the families the team visited, a mother with a four-month-old baby felt God in a personal way. Through the love she had for her son, she was able to understand how God unconditionally loved her and died for her. She “would die for him”, her son, just as Jesus died for her. God showed up.

Another family felt particularly touched by one of the team sharing how God had shaped them. They became more interested in how the Bible was relevant in their lives today. They began to understand how God could speak into their needs and circumstances through the bible.

Children’s and Youth Programmes

During the mission trip, our team ran and hosted children’s programmes at one of the local churches in Palanca.

Venturing out into the village, our team also went into the community to invite youth to an evening service which they also hosted.

Eager and excited, the team welcomed over 40 children on the first day and over 65 children the other days to watch plays of bible stories, do arts, crafts and games, as well as pray for the children.

The children became more open and eager to participate over the course of the programme whether it was through listening or playing games.

Things got serious during the making of paper aeroplanes and they enjoyed playing with them afterward. The games brought them such joy!

At the end of the programme the team prayed individually with each child who attended the programme, bringing an opportunity to speak God into their lives and fill their hearts with the deep love of Jesus.

The team felt grateful then to have specific time with the youth. There is something special about “Teenagers reaching Teenagers!”.

So many of the teenagers in Palanca came to the programme and engaged with what the team shared. The evening was extremely powerful.

“We reflected a generation that was listening to God and that was evident in testimonies.”

“It was great to hear the pastor of the church say he was incredibly grateful for what we did. The impact it had on the children and youth was so great, it filled his heart with joy.”

Life Back Home

Re-familiarising themselves with life back home after being taken out of their comfort zones and into God’s hands, the team are putting what they have learnt into action!

One week since returning, how is God continuing to impact our team?

Physical and Spiritual Thankfulness

Physical

Culture shock sunk in this week, as the team were faced with the luxuries which we take for granted.

During their time in Moldova, the team were faced with seeing a lack of healthcare, sanitation and safe water.

The team have come home truly appreciating and thanking God for those things which some of the world do not have access to, sometimes out of no fault of their own.

Spiritual

During the mission trip, one of our leaders, Tom, guided the team through a quiet time. In this time he highlighted that in order to live like Jesus we must thank God ahead of the situations we face.

“This isn’t just a nice saying,” says Emily. “We saw this embedded into Jesus’ ministry, such as before raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41-43, Luke 9:16)”

The team are integrating both forms of thankfulness into their personal lives, but also in their youth ministries back home.

In Bicester, the team are putting God first by challenging themselves to praise God before their youth groups or places they serve in. Thanking God ahead of what happens.

Appreciating God’s Provision

Fabian, a member of our team, says he has been changed since the mission trip in Moldova. “I am thankful to God that He will always provide and meet every need we have, both physical and spiritual,” he says – even if this isnt how we always expect.

Facing desperate circumstances, the team sometimes felt helpless. One of the things that the team has appreciated since being home is trusting God to meet these needs and not relying on our personal strength.

The most powerful reaction is prayer and to trust God with providing for us.

Vicky was overwhelmed with the hospitality of the Moldovan people. “I am looking for ways to carry the hospitality of the Moldovan people into my core values in my personal life and in ministry.” Vicky shared.

To learn more about what the team got up to, read our Mission Diary, written by the wonderful Emily on our Gap Year Programme.

Thinking of taking your youth on a mission trip? Click here for our Overseas and UK Mission Trips.

Sometimes it can feel like the youth and the church are disconnected from each other. Here are 5 simple ways to help your youth and the church develop a relationship and feel more connected.

Our students, friends and team share some tips and tricks to help the church and youth feel more connected to each other (they may also help to get in more volunteers!)

Prayer can not only help grow our faith as it encourages us to be in conversation with God and seek His help, but it also helps us to think about what we pray.

By encouraging the church or leadership team to pray for specific things within your young people’s lives and praying with the youth for other aspects of the church, helps us to think of eachother and feel more connected.

Because prayer invites testimony, praying for each other helps the church feel connected and invites spiritual and numerical growth to happen.

It may require us to keep updated in what is going on across all congregations, teams and individual people within the church but it will also help the youth and members of the church to have something to talk about.

We believe discipleship and growing youth ministry is all about being relational, that it is more than just a programme.

Youth ministry thrives for relationships helping them with their spiritual adventure. Help the church to see that youth ministry isn’t just a programme but a place to see the youth’s relationship with Jesus grow by being relational and working as a community!

We are near enough born for relationships and connecting with others. Christian author, Stasi Eldredge, says;

Part of discipleship is being overseen by a spiritual parent. One of the best ways to see youth and church members disciple others is by seeing how healthy discipleship works from your example.

Encourage your team to spark conversation with the youth and be real, help show the church the youth are wanting a relationship with God and connection with the community and no one is too old for getting down with the youth!

Inviting people in to talk to the youth about their testimony or have a go at serving on the youth team is a great way to help the youth get to know people in the church and know who they are.

Often, I felt the youth got a bit bored with my voice and having someone fresh to talk to help inspire them. They may feel like someone else in the church inspires them with their faith more or their story may resonate.

When someone comes to faith often they feel motivated to serve and help others, sometimes serving helps us to come to faith because we see generosity, love and relationship. The Bible inspires us to serve, and joy can come to us through helping.

Asking the youth to help serve on a team will not only make the teams super grateful but will help the youth to build relationships with people in the church and with God. Working together can be fun, starts a conversation and helps us to feel part of something.

It also helps the youth to see the generosity of the volunteers helping and maybe help them to respect you. Serving on a team can be so life-giving and gives all the feel-good vibes!

Many studies have found having a mentor helps people massively in all aspects of life, especially teenagers. According to research from 2008, having a healthy mentor-style relationship during teenage years helps to reduce the likelihood of substance abuse, promotes better mental health, increases confidence, betters academic performance and improves family relationships. This relationship helps youth to feel listened to, supported and increases personal relationships.

So many of our students are inspired by people in the church who mentored them or invested time into their spiritual journey. This helps to ignite a passion to do the same.

Alex, who is currently studying on the Degree says; “Because people discipled me and invested into my life, I want to do the same for others. I want to be the person who invests into others and helps the to grow in their relationship with God.”

If you feel they are able, it may be good for the youth to mentor someone else. Maybe there is a younger person in the youth who would benefit with a mentor in your youth group.

Action!

Finding a Mentor – Ask the church if there is anybody who would like to be a mentor for one of the young people and to sign up in whichever way is easiest for your context. Then you may be able to see people who would suit mentoring a specific young person in the group.

Sam, Friend of Reign

We hope this gave you some inspiration! For more resources, stories and information check out our blog and website

*With all these suggestions make sure you keep on track with safeguarding and DBS. Speak to a church leader if you need any help with this. Have fun!

Facebook Get-to-know-you

We are always looking for ways to get a feel for what young people think about God and to bring God into our conversations.  Sometimes it’s challenging to think of new ways to do this week after week.  Here is a simple tool that we have used in lunch club and drop-in settings to get young people talking about God.  

Invite young people to complete their Facebook “Profile Page” by filling in the blanks and sketching in a few pictures.  Once everybody is finished, invite the group to ask each other questions about any of the areas of their Facebook page so they can get to know each other better.  We’ve included a “Religious Views” category so that talking about their beliefs can be a natural part of the conversation.  

Bonus:  If you as a leader sketch a picture of God or Jesus as one of your ‘Top Friends,’ it gives you a chance to share part of your faith story and why God is an important part of your life.

We hope this tool is useful and let us know how you get on with it!