NASHVILLE (BP) – Shane Pruitt, national Next Gen director for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), says churches now more than ever have the opportunity to step into the brokenness of Generation Z with the hope of the Gospel.
In a video interview with Baptist Press, Pruitt said the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t create new problems for Gen Z, but instead “poured gasoline,” onto problems that were already there.
He encouraged churches to point to Jesus as the solution.
“You have a whole generation that I think realized through the pandemic that the world is broken,” Pruitt said.
“They’re looking for hope and answers, and that’s a perfect opportunity for the Church to come in and say ‘we know you’re looking for hope. We know you’re looking for answers. We know you’re looking for truth and hope has a name. The answer has a name, truth has a name and that name’s Jesus.’”
The interview with Pruitt was an installment in a new weekly series from Baptist Press entitled ‘Baptist Press This Week.’ Episodes are available on the Baptist Press website and Baptist Press’s YouTube channel.
One important big avenue that Pruitt mentioned for connecting with Gen Z is through social media.
He explains that not only does social media allow the generation to know everything going on in the world good and bad, it also creates a weird social dynamic where they are “connected, but super lonely at the same time.”
Pruitt said he challenges the age group to prioritize time in God’s Word over time on social media.
“I will often say to teenagers, ‘What if you read one Bible verse for every social media post you read every day, how fast would you get through the Bible?’”
Although time in God’s Word is most important, Pruitt went on to say social media can be used for good and even encouraged churches to ask teenagers in their church for tips in using other teenagers with social media.
“Over half of the world’s population is on social media, so it’s part of discipleship to say to them ‘leverage this for the Kingdom of God,’” Pruitt said. “I say the most effective person at reaching a teenager with a Gospel is another teenager that has a heart that beats with passion for Jesus, and that same heart is broken over the spiritual lostness of their own generation.
“I would say get them to the table, learn from them, hear from them, and even add them as a part of the decision-making process of your online strategies.”
Pruitt encourages older believers to be “real and authentic,” to who they are and preach the same Gospel that led them to faith.
“I will tell you in the two years of my ministry, I’ve seen more college students, young adults, and teenagers get saved than probably the 15 years of my ministry before that combined,” Pruitt said. “It’s because they are searching for truth and we can point them to Jesus and preach the Word. The same gospel that has worked for 2000 years still works today and the Bible is always relevant.