Sean McDowell | June 27, 2019

Reaching Gen Z Requires a New Mindset

Reaching Gen Z Requires A New Mindset

SeanMcDowell.org

Let’s face it–all of us are crazy busy. Despite the wonders of technology, we live in anxious and busy times. So, how do we reach a younger generation when our own lives are overflowing? The solution is not to add a new program, but to better use existing opportunities. Let me explain.

Recently my 15-year-old son wanted to see the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, which tells the story of the rock band Queen. I hesitated because the film is PG-13 and contains a message about sexuality that concerns me. Yet after some thought, and research on the film, I came up with a compromise: I would bring him and a friend if they would talk with me about the movie afterward.

He agreed. We went to the movie and then came home and discussed it at the dining room table for about 30 minutes. I didn’t lecture them, but simply asked questions about their impressions, insights, and how we can think about the movie Christianly. My goal was to build a relationship with my son and his friend and also to seize the opportunity to have a meaningful discussion with them about faith.

Practical Strategies

This is one of the main ways I try to help my kids develop a Christian worldview. While I do send them to worldview conferences such as Summit Ministries and Re-Think, and I use a variety of apologetics resources, my primary approach in teaching my kids involves intentionally finding ways to engage them in the natural course of life. Here are a few other recent examples.

  • In class last week at Biola, one of my grad students shared a modern miracle account documented in a peer-reviewed medical journal. The remarkable story is about a young man healed of gastroparesis at 16. I shared the story with my kids over dinner and we discussed it.
  • My 12-year old daughter asked me to buy her some new shoes this summer. Instead of having her work for them around the house, I decided to have her watch Prager U videos and write short summaries. We briefly discuss each one.

There are countless ways to do this. Discuss a popular song. Watch and discuss a trending YouTube video. Invite people to dinner to share their life stories. Discuss a current event. Essentially, I am always looking for interesting stories, short videos, and events to discuss with my kids. When I see something that is both interesting and valuable for discussion, I write it down in my smartphone, and bring it up later.

New Mindset: Seize Opportunities

Here’s the bottom line: Deuteronomy 6:7 says to diligently teach kids when you “sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” In other words, seize opportunities that naturally arise throughout the course of the day to teach your kids biblical truth.

The opportunities are there, if we are simply willing to use them.

*If you are looking for some practical strategies for engaging your kids, grandkids, or other young people in your life, check out my new book with J. Warner Wallace: So The Next Generation Will Know. It is a practical guide for helping caring adults pass on the faith to the next generation.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, the National Spokesman for Summit Ministries, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.