That means dropping the façade and admitting their own struggles.
As Generation Z teens grow up, many are moving further away from Christian faith and challenging church leaders to adapt to new expectations from the youngest in their flocks.
Last month, Barna Research reported that young adults aged 18 to 22 are half as likely to identify as Christian and follow Jesus than teenagers aged 13 to 17. A slight majority of today’s young adults—52 percent—don’t identify as Christians.
The young people of Gen Z are diverse, educated, and social media savvy. When it comes to faith, they’re open to Jesus and his teachings but skeptical about institutions and leaders putting on a façade.
Kendall Johnson, 20, became a believer in college and established her faith through campus ministry, but it was the “real and raw” women of her local church in Raleigh, North Carolina, that helped her grow spiritually. Though older than she, they reached out to talk and share struggles from their own lives.
Their openness, Johnson said, “allows me to see how much faith and trust they have in Jesus. It showed me Christianity is relational with one another [and] relational with God.”
Young Christians like Johnson expect the same kind of transparency, honesty, and authenticity from their leaders.
“For some generations, the more mythical their spiritual leaders, the more they trusted them,” said Darrell Hall, author of Speaking Across Generations: Messages That Satisfy Boomers, Xers, Millennials, Gen Z, and Beyond. “Gen Zers want there to be no gap between Darrell and Dr. Hall. No gap in persona. No gap in who I am and who I present myself to be.”
To cultivate genuine relationships, Hall said leaders need be accessible to students, meeting …