Churches also find that having them in community with older members and answering their “whys” help them stay in the church.

Since Heart of God Church in Singapore started more than 20 years ago, it’s succeeded in attracting a hard-to-capture demographic: The average age of its congregants has remained steady at 22 years old.

Today, about 5,000 people attend Heart of God Church each Sunday. Cecilia Chan, the church’s co-founding senior pastor affectionately known as Pastor Lia, noted their strategy: “Youths need to be invited, included, involved, before they can be influenced and impacted.”

That means teens as young as 12 are given responsibilities like designing slides, filming church livestreams, running the soundboard, or even helping coordinate Sunday services. At the same time, they are mentored by others a few life stages ahead of them.

Churches in Singapore face similar struggles as their counterparts around the world in keeping Gen Z engaged, as the digital natives are bombarded with distractions and noise from the rest of the world. Many young people’s views on issues like sexuality or what comprises a family unit are no longer defined by Asian societal norms. A 2020 census found that a growing number of young people (ages 15-24) say they have no religious affiliations: The number rose from 21 percent in 2010 to 24 percent in 2020.

Singaporean students, who are known for their chart-topping test scores, also experience high levels of anxiety and stress about doing well academically. With pressure from their parents as well as their peers, students spend afterschool hours in tutoring and enrichment classes. In their remaining free time, many spend it on their phones. Activities that provide opportunities to interact face-to-face and don’t focus on schoolwork are a breath of fresh air.

Christianity Today spoke …

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