Reaching Gen Z Students Before They Graduate

gen z students

Anywhere from 67% to upwards of 80% of people who ever come to Christ do so on or before their 18th birthday.

According to a recent Barna study, Generation Z teens are more atheistic and less Christian than any generation we have ever known. Thirty-five percent of Gen Z teens consider themselves to be atheist, agnostic, or have no religious affiliation at all. In Judges 2:10 the Bible says, “There grew up a generation who knew not the Lord nor the things he had done.” This is the generation presently standing before us. 

The truth is, statistically, if students are not reached by age 18, it is likely they never will.  Multiple studies have been undertaken and each shows startling realities. Anywhere from 67% to upwards of 80% of people who ever come to Christ do so on or before their 18th birthday.

This is why we must be as serious as ever in making sure students don’t graduate without Jesus.

So how can we as Christ-followers individually, and our churches corporately, begin to reach the Gen Z teens where we are? Here are seven steps you can take to make an impact and shift the tide of a generation back to Jesus.


To reach them we must first be willing to invest in them. There is a familiar Biblical law that we are all aware of—the law of the harvest. Galatians 6:7-9 covers this, but simply stated, “You reap what you sow.” We must move beyond talking and start investing. Investing in the next generation must be done spiritually, financially, and practically. 

Spiritually we must pray for, pray with, mentor, disciple, and train up Gen Z in all spiritual disciplines. Financially we must be willing to give towards reaching youth. Scripture tells us that where our heart is, our treasure will be also. If we truly desire to see the next generation reached, we need to contribute financially.  Additionally, we must invest practically. Find a way to be part of the life of the next generation ministry inside your church and outreaches beyond your church. Ask yourself the question, “What can I do?” And if you have no idea what to do, simply ask youth youth pastor.


Secondly, to reach Gen Z we must invite them in. Every student, child, and parent in your area ought to know that they are welcome in your church. This message can be conveyed on so many levels to the community—from involvement in community events to participation in next generation church ministries. Every step we take as believers and the church as a whole should communicate that students are not only welcome but wanted

Just a few weeks ago, I was at a youth weekend. I challenged students to text friends and invite them to that night’s worship service. I committed to them that I would preach the gospel simply and plainly. Many students took the challenge. One teen girl, in particular, sent a message to a friend who accepted the invite. Her friend came that night and heard the gospel. Feeling the call of God, she gave her life to Jesus as her King and was changed forever! All it took was a 15-second text letting her know she was invited! Everyone can invite someone.


Next, to reach Gen Z we must make sure to introduce them. I know many churches that go all out inviting people to their church. This is an important step, but it is not the ultimate. Our end goal is to get people to Jesus. 

Make sure you have some way you are intentionally communicating the gospel in your life and in your church. How are you introducing others to Christ? Know your testimony and be ready to share it. Memorize a simple gospel outline so you can always be ready to explain the hope you have within you. Make gospel presentations a regular occurrence in your realm of ministry. When you present the gospel regularly, you see salvations regularly.


The next step will get a bit messy but it is a must. To reach the next generation we have to include them! As one who speaks to students all over the country, I have learned from my travels that this could easily be one of the biggest keys to effectively reaching students in your area. Find ways to get them involved. 

Gen Z teens do not want to just come and sit. They want to come and be a part of something. Find areas of ministry in your church to train them up—tech, kids ministry, videos, social media, welcome team, worship, and yes… teaching. If your student ministry is simply a six-year hangout with pizza, don’t expect them to stick around when they graduate. Every year in the United States, three thousand churches close their doors. I believe along the way many of these churches decided not to include the next generation so they lost the next generation.


Reaching the next generation is also done as we inspire them. Recall what the writer of Hebrews said, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Students, just like adults, like to be where they are encouraged. 

It’s amazing how a little encouragement goes a long way. Make it your regular practice as an adult to say things like this to teens—“I am so glad you are in this church,” “We love having students and kids all over this building,” “Our church is better because you are here.” When grey-haired ladies and men speak words like these to students each week, they want to come back and stick around. Remember this powerful truth; it is always the will of God to encourage one another.


Lastly, to reach the next generation we must intercede for the next generation. This is the most important thing we can do. Prayer is the power. When we get on our knees before the Lord for the next generation, we will see this next generation stand on their feet for the Lord. 

Make praying for Gen Z a normal and intentional part of the life of your church. Pray in small groups, pray in Sunday school, pray corporately, pray publicly, pray privately, and pray regularly—pray without ceasing for Gen Z to come to know, grow, and go for Jesus! Devote yourself to prayer!

There is a revival happening in Generation Z. We are seeing students turn to, and back to, God in incredible numbers all over the country. You and your church must be part of this harvest. At our ministry, R.A.G.E. Ministries, we always say this, “Reaching A Generation Endangered is not a “me” thing, it is a “we” thing. It will take us all! It will take us all going all in! Are you going to join us? 

Which of the ideas above do you see as most helpful? What other steps do you think that we need to take to reach Gen Z? 

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