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Gen Z and the Great Commission (Bonus Episode)

Gen Z and the Great Commission (Bonus Episode)

MAY 3, 2022  |  43.5 MINUTE LISTEN

Listen on Spotify, Apple, and Google

Episode Overview

On this bonus episode, we'll listen to John Rinehimer's recent talk at a conference focusing on the next generation. John discusses Gen Z, the Great Commission, and how the power of abiding could impact the next generation!

If you’ve been wondering, “Why Gen Z?” this episode will help answer that question, and it might even grow your heart for the next generation.

Read the Script

Connor: Welcome to The Approach, a microcast where we help you walk with and pray for the next generation. My name is Connor Owen, and I serve on staff at World Gospel Mission. And usually, I'm joined by my co-host, John Rinehimer. John is not with us today in studio. He is still going to join us, though. We're just going to hear from him a little bit differently. This is a bonus episode today, the first of a few over the next couple of months. Well, back in February, John led a session at a conference in California where he talked about the next generation and how culture is shaping them spiritually.

As he spoke, John connected Gen Z and the Great Commission, and he also walked the audience through some practices that he believes are the key to spiritual formation within Gen Z. I loved what he had to share, and I thought you would too. So we're going to take the next forty minutes and we're going to listen to it together. It's a little bit longer than our usual format. I know. But I think you're going to leave today's episode inspired and equipped to journey with your Gen Zer as they seek Jesus.

John: You know you're getting old when…I was playing basketball the other day with some guys, and they called me “pops with the hops.” They were nineteen and twenty. I tried to take that as a compliment, but I was slowly insulted. You know you're getting old when you start having to use Advil after you work out or you get excited when a book comes in or a new briefcase or a shirt. I'm like, "Man, I am so getting old. This is depressing." Let me pray for us, and we're going to dive right in.

Jesus, we welcome you in this place. You've been here long before we got up today. And God, we welcome all those online, those here in person, and we welcome you, Holy Spirit. Move and do what only you can do. You change hearts. You change lives, God. You have an even greater heart for the world than we can even imagine, Jesus. You love this generation, the one just being born, the one current and all the generations together, God created in your image. So we give you this time. We welcome you in this place. All God's people said…

Audience: Amen.

John: My wife and I had just finished raising our support. We were going to be missionaries with World Gospel Mission, and, as you heard, in Uganda. We were exhausted. You go around, you travel, you raise all this prayer support, financial support. And we've just been asking Jesus, "Would you give us a place we could rest?" So we found this incredible deal on just adding just a little bit more to our plane tickets. We could stop in Rome, Italy, for only $10 more a plane ticket. You can't make this stuff up. Right? You can't do it now, but back then you could. So we went, and it was fantastic.

We saw the Sistine Chapel, the Coliseum, the prison where the apostle Paul had been held. Of course, we ate a lot of gelato, right? It was fantastic. So this next line is going to sound like I made it up, but it's true. So my wife and I were walking on our way to dinner, romantic little stroll down the Spanish steps. Who gets to say that, right? So it's perfect like just ambiance. It's just incredible. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, there's like police cars flying through these Italian streets. The lights are on. There's police barricades. And there's like fifteen black Mercedes SUVs come ripping through these narrow roads of Rome.

All of a sudden, they stop in front of this restaurant, and we all of a sudden realized we've just walked upon this huge celebrity wedding. This was back when they were still married. I don't think they're still married, but it was Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. I had nothing to do with this, okay? So that was all their doing. But we landed right there smacked up, and my wife and I just were like, "This is amazing." So she's not here, so I'm going to tell the story the way it happened.

She's listening online. I love you. Okay. She said, "Come on, we got to go down here." I'm not really into celeb thing, but it is kind of cool. Right? So for the next four hours, I'm not… That's not preacher math. That is really what happened. Okay? Four hours, every time someone would go in or out of the restaurant, like famous, she's like, "Oh, ooh, put me on your shoulders." I had just been married a year, so as a husband, I was still learning.

So now I know you do that always. So I am literally getting down, putting her on my shoulders. She's getting pictures. We saw Will Smith, David and Victoria Beckham, Jim Carrey. You just name it. We saw celebrity, JLo. Like, just whoever you could think of. It was outstanding. So we finally left that night, but then I got to tell you something weird happened. Okay? If that wasn't weird enough. The rest of our time, we were like stalking-slash-studying like, where were they going to be next? And like, let's coincidentally maybe just saunter up and bump into someone famous.

And then we kept doing this and then, all of a sudden, it hit us. We're in Rome. What are we doing? Let's stop trying to analyze and live their life and let's live our own adventure. Because analyzing and researching something is not the same thing as living. Right? And in my studies on Gen Z, I find myself asking that same question. Am I just arbitrarily kind of looking at the data and the research and somehow just analyzing this generation like they're not real people? Or am I actually trying to engage Gen Z to live like Jesus? Researching is not the same thing as living.

And my hope for this conference is that we're not just going to analyze the research and look at all the cool data, and there's a ton of it. But together, together, we're going to go, "Man, how do we help the next generation rise up? How do we help them live a redemptive narrative where God's Holy Spirit is filling them and forming them and then sending them out. Let's help them take huge steps of faith. Amen? So let's dive in. You guys are better looking than Allie said. Online, I'm sure you're really good looking. Our analytics have shown us that this group has above average IQ. Did you know that? Turn to your neighbor and say, "You look smart."

Audience: You look smart.

John: Online, you can just chat to somebody, say, "I think you look smart." Now, tell your other neighbor, "You look smart." Also say, "I'm sorry you were my second choice. Okay?" Life's about choices. Forgive me. All right. Well, we're going to take a little Gen Z quiz to see how well the next generation. This is a little Gen Z slang here for you. If you're Gen Z, you hopefully know a couple of these. If not, shame on yourself. So here we go. All right. It's excellent. It's very high quality. Ghosting. If you don't know this, you've been living under a rock. Okay? But just when you don't text someone back.

All right. Bougie. That's also kind of popular, kind of made, but it's fancy, right? It's extravagant. No cap. I heard some kids saying this the other day in basketball. It means you're not lying. You're telling the truth. Very cool, drip. Bop, it's a song. It's really good. Kind of get your head bopping along.

Living rent-free. Do you know this one? No, it's not your kid still living with you. It means there's an idea you can't stop thinking about. I know you probably went to, “Can you get this kid out of my house?” So bet, slang for yes. Busing, something's delicious. That's good. Stan, not a person. Okay? It's not like the term “Karen,” like that mom who went ballistic on those kids or whatever, but it's a combination of stalker and fan. It means you're obsessed. But not in that creepy, go-to-jail way. Okay?

Did you feel like you were in another culture? That's where they brought the missionary guy up first. They're like, "Help us understand the context." I know. Speak your language. Right? I don't get it. Well, we are in a different world. That is for sure. And by the way, if you're over twenty-five, please don't like take that as a cheat sheet of new words to go try out on somebody.

I beg you. It's going to hurt the kingdom. I know Jesus can do anything, but it's going to be bad. Okay. That's the ground rules. Okay? Next generation is different for sure. And it may feel like you're in another country. But that's why we want to start with saying, "How can we understand the context?" This isn't to alienate or to separate the body. This is for the body to come together. I know sometimes we put labels on Gen Alpha or Z or X or whatever, Boomers. It can really be divisive. That's not the point of this at all. The point of this is like, "We need to come down with the body." Like, "Hey, you need your lungs. You need your heart. They're both important. Okay?"

Every generation has something that Jesus is using to bring together and we need each other. I love this passage, Gen X, too. It totally reminds me of this concept here. I've heard this verse so many times and I'm sure Dr. Doug here, he could probably execute this better than I can. One, you notice the Spirit shows up. When the Spirit shows up, truth shows up. Something amazing always happens. The Holy Spirit shows up. But then it says, it talks about young men and visions and old men and dreams.

Now, I don't know. All my leadership classes, my things like that, I thought, like, visions and dreams. Aren't those the same thing? I don't know if they are. When I think about the different generations, I think the younger generation, vision tends to be more of like a short-term, what you're really excited about. So the next gen, they do. They get excited. They’ve got innovation. They’ve got ways to solve problems in different ways that maybe the other generations haven't seen because they're fresh. They're like, "We all were like that, right?"

No matter what generation, you brought fresh eyes to the party. Right? But then I was like, "Well, why would it say the older generation dreams dreams?" I don't know, I can't help but wonder, but in Acts, so they're trying to make this connection of dreams being the bigger picture of God how they've been around and seen the faithfulness of God show up time and time, and time again. And if you're a little bit younger sometimes, don't you get a little discouraged like the first time we try something and you're like, "Man, it didn't work out the way. It didn't go fast. It wasn't easy."

And then the old generation go like, "I told you so. See, that's why. We already did that. We don't need to do it." But what if instead the older said, "Hey, let's come alongside. Don't give up first time out. Let's press through. Because I can see how your exciting, innovative vision fits into God's dream, His redemptive narrative for the world." Does that make sense? I love that passage. So here's what we're going to do. Congratulations. Missionary 101. You can call yourself missiologist. Not really. Don't do that.

So, Missionary 101. Do you know what it is? The first lesson? You come in as a learner, not an expert. You don't come in as the American who's like, "You are lucky I am here. I'm American. I know it all." I know we know it all, but we don't do that. No, we think we know it all. We come into a culture humble because we love them. We want to know the context of how we can share the Gospel with the next generation.

So that's what we're going to do. I want to give an overview here and I realized this room has multi-generations in it. These are broad strokes. Okay? So if you want to email someone, email Allie about, "I miss this or I miss that." Just give me some grace here. I'm going to give some broad-stroke generalizations about the next generation. And I'm optimistic, okay? I'm very aware of all the research as best I could possibly be. But hang with me here. All right? Are you ready? It's going to be fast.

Gen Z crash course, and then we're going to give you some action steps. Gen Z, they were born around the turn of the century. They're roughly ages five to twenty-five. A lot of debate on that. Another lecture for another day. Okay? They're just starting to graduate college, basically, a couple years out. Gen Z is the first generation—this is important—in America growing up in a post-Christian context. They have been called a lot of things. I'm going to use some positive words and some other things people have written about them.

They've been called digital natives. They've been called the most anxious generation. They've been accused also of being coddled by their parents. Now, on the other side of the equation, that could be because there's the rise of 24/7 news feeds and technology in your hand. It's always available. Therefore, they have been exposed to all of life sooner and faster. Earlier than all other generations.

They have grown up their entire lives knowing Google, Alexa, Siri. Just smart devices. That is just part of the norm. It's doing it right now. My kids do this. I took them mini-golfing the other day and we finished. I thought I'm being this great dad. And they said, "Dad, here's your phone." And I'm like I hate them using my phone. But I was like, "Okay." You know what they did? I thought they're using the calculator. They didn't use the calculator. Hey, Siri, what's two plus five, plus three, plus four? She's doing it right now. See that?

Siri: Two plus five, plus three, plus four is 14.

John: There we go. So I did what any godly parent would do. I said, "Give me that phone. You do math like Jesus did." So they multiplied. So Gen Z has grown up their entire life knowing TSA's at the airport. They never got to do like those old school movies where you could run to the airport and beg for that person at the gate. They don't know that. They've always had Homeland Security. (They've always known) legalized abortions, same-sex marriage, school shootings, economic and racial and political unrest.

But they've also seen amazing advances in technology and life. Self-driving car, 3D printers, privatized rocket ships to the moon. That sounds like a little boy's dream that says, "I'm going to fly to the moon when I grow up." Right? They've all seen this. That's the kind of world they're growing up in and still are. The speed of information and technology. The revolution that's taking place is faster than ever before.

And older generations are kind of unaware of it. They're just kind of like, "What's going on? How come they don't get it?" Here's how fast it's happening. You could have kids who are twenty-five, nineteen, and fourteen. All Generation Z and all have a different experience. They'll have different cultural cues. Inside jokes. Social media platforms they're using. Things they probably even learned in school. That's how fast the world is moving. Some have called it the technocratic age. Lord Jonathan Sacks or Rabbi, he passed a couple years ago, but he called it the technocratic age.

All the things that we used to use humans for and relationship are slowly being replaced by technology. Used to go to the Book of Psalms when you needed comfort. Now you go to medication. When you were feeling depressed, you used to go to your pastor or your priest or somebody. Now you go to Amazon and you buy it. And so forth and so on. It's the technocratic age.

So while Millennials, for example, just to give you another little difference, generally grew up absorbing content through YouTube. Gen Z craves to create it. They want to create. Maybe you've heard of Ryan Kaji. He's the host of Ryan's World. Have you heard of this? He's a YouTuber. In 2020, he was the highest earning YouTuber in the world. According to Forbes, $30 million just in 2020 with 40 million subscribers.

By the way, Ryan's World, he's nine. He's my new best friend. I love this kid. Did it blow your mind? I can't even get my dog to follow me, let alone that many people on social media. This is the kind of world Gen Z is creating and living in, and interacting with. These are the mediums. This is the language. Gen Z in America has generally grown up in a world where they have more access to more information at faster speeds than ever before, but it's also complicating their maturity and the life stages.

Sociologist Christian Smith writes this. He says, "The transition to adulthood today is more complex, disjointed, confusing than in past decades. These steps through schooling, their first real job, marriage, parenthood are all simply less. Just they're less well-organized and coherent today than previous generations. All these cultural shifts along with, oh, yeah, COVID-19 pandemic most recently that's changing their education, their relationships. All these influences and more, are shaping Gen Z's understanding of relationship, worldview, identity, belonging just to name of few.”

Don't worry. There's good news. I'm going to get there. I'm just trying to paint the whole picture. Okay? I'm not hating. I'm optimistic and I'm going to tell you why. Barna did a huge study. They have two volumes on Gen Z talking about worldview, Christianity, spiritual formation. And that's one of the reasons I'm diving into this area of research. There is very little on spiritual formation for the next generation. It blows my mind.

Everybody just hits the low-hanging fruit of leadership like, "Well, this generation is snowflake. Blah, blah, blah." Anybody can do that. Give me some solutions. Show me the hope of the gospels. Show me what you're going to do differently. Don't just complain about it. Okay. Side note. All right. Back on track here. Here's what Barna said, the research: only 4% of Gen Z have a biblical worldview.

Now, just to give you… It was 10% for Boomers, 7% for Xers, and so forth and so on. 65% of Gen Z believe many religions can lead to eternal life. Only 34% believe lying is wrong. Only 29% believe abortion is wrong. Only 20% believe sex before marriage is wrong. Only 38% believe marriage should be between a man and a woman for life. 33% say gender is what a person feels. 31% agree that what is morally right and wrong, it changes over time based on society.

That's not meant to depress you. I'm giving you the cultural context to share the Gospel. Now, here's some good news. Those who are resilient Christians, which is what part of defines as those who are kind of all in, read their Bible, know Jesus, trust Jesus, the inerrancy of God's word. They talk about 82% of Christian teenagers. Gen Zers told Barna they believe in sharing their faith and they do so. 80% said they have shared their faith about Jesus with someone this year. They are vivacious. They are zealous. They are getting after it.

So there may be fewer, but they're higher impact. They're also an entrepreneurial generation. Several studies have talked about over 75% of them probably have some reasons for this. They don't want to be bossed around. They want to be their own boss, which I can't blame them, but they are going to do something new and something different than what you and I have probably ever thought of. This is a redemptive missional generation who's entrepreneurial. That's exciting. That means Jesus is wiring them and putting in a position in this time in this place in our world for a very specific reason. In some ways, Gen Z is already living out the Great Commission, which by the way is woefully low when it comes to awareness.

But some have called it “the everyday commission.” This is why we're supposed to just live, like this is like the bottom line. We're all called to be involved in some way. Not everyone has to move to Uganda like us, but you got to be involved. Jesus: “If you're following me, this is part of the deal. This is the mission. You love, you go, you do it together.” And this is part of the incredible opportunity that we have. What if Gen Z is our next wave of missionaries?

They're kind of already doing it. They're going to a post-Christian world and they're following Jesus. They're missionaries. They're adjusting to the culture as they are going. And I think this desire, they love… They don't want to be on the sideline. They don't want to be spectators. They want to participate. We’ve got to put them in the game. We have to give them opportunities. But not just hang them out there to dry. We have to walk with them. Help them live this redemptive narrative.

Walk with them doesn't mean we just talk at them. It means we show it and we give them opportunities. We let them go and we walk with them. We guide. They want to participate. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to help the widow, the orphan, the refugee. They want to be world changers and make a difference. This is where I think apologetics and mission come together. Gen Z is looking for reasons and looking for solid rooted reasons historically. They're looking for relationships, rhythms, and this redemptive narrative.

Yes, I know those are all Rs. I'm a pastor. I'm sorry. They had to go like that, alliteration-wise. Gen Z needs to know. I believe that this is not the first time in history the world's been on fire. The Gospel has stood the test of the time. I'm pretty sure the first century church thought, "We're not going to make it out of the first century." Right? And then it just kept happening and happening, and happening throughout. But Jesus is still in control. His spirit is still moving. He's still calling people. Amen?

Audience: Amen.

John: This is the great opportunity. The Pinetops Foundation did a three-year study on Gen Z and they found that by 2050, if we continue with the current trends, we'll see 42 million Gen Zers out of church. But if we could return to our evangelistic roots of Gen X, we would see 22 million come to faith in Jesus. That sounds like a random arbitrary number. Let me put it in context for you. 22 million is more than every American revival in history combined. Are you getting that?

It is a huge opportunity. What we're doing right now matters in real time with real people with this generation. It is awesome. It is amazing. I'm optimistic because I think God is calling Gen Z to the third Great Awakening. I think there is a stirring happening. The Gen Zers is I know, man, they are off-the-charts awesome. They need some help to connect some of the dots in between. But so did I. That's why I had Laura Lea introduced me. She doesn't know the train wreck I was in my twenties and all those stupid decisions I made.

It took literally a whole group of people to shape me and love me and keep me moving forward through all my idiotic mistakes and dumb pickup lines and all kinds of stuff that I did. Right? I bet you had a couple of those stories too, and you probably can go back and think of somebody who guided you, who walk with you, who prayed with you. It's time for us to be those people.

So there are challenges that, I love how Dr. King says it. We've allowed our technology to outdistance our theology. And for this reason, we find ourselves caught up with many problems. By the way, he said that in 1965. Sounds like he could have said it this morning on Twitter.

So what are we going to do? Well, we have to close the gap. How are we going to do that? How do we help Gen Z walk with this redemptive narrative? One word: abiding. I know what you're thinking: That sounds ridiculous. I'm not sure what that word means. I know it's not a word used in everyday vernacular. It's not like you go up to your friends, you're like, "Hey, what's up man? Want to go abide together?"

Have you ever said that? I'm going to guess no. Right? I'm going to go out in a limb there. It's not something you text, not something you say. Abiding is a weird word, but I think a theology of abiding is so significant for Gen Z to navigate this world that they're hurried, worried, distracted. These are the enemies of abiding. These are the enemies to having a life that is filled and formed by the Holy Spirit and then sent out and released.

Abiding is old school. It might be a word they don't know, but it's biblical. John 15, you probably know this passage. If not, get to know it. Abiding, it can also be translated as “remain in” or “abode.” Abode is the word for home. In a generation that's seeing less and less adults in their lives, walking with them, families that are broken, man, wouldn't it be amazing to behind your home in Jesus?

To have this place of belonging, confidence, a holy humble confidence that says," I can try some things and I can press in. Jesus is going to keep filling me and for me his holy presence.” Isn't that good?

Man, I was trying to get this across to my kids. Right? I'm trying to be awesome dad and tell them about like, it's a great relationship of dependency and Jesus. This is how you really know Jesus. Not just know about him, like the information. I'm throwing my A-game at my kids. I take him outside to a fruit tree in our backyard. I'm like, "Oh yeah, dad moment. Here we go." I take him out there. I'm giving them all the things. I'm saying this stuff.

Here's what my kids literally say to me. "So following Jesus means we just hang there?" They're implying, "This is boring, Dad. Can I go back inside? Can I go play something else? Anything else, Dad." I'll give it to you. On a surface level… You're giving me the faces right now. Online is kind of like, "Yeah, let's close out of this right now. Abiding? That's what you… We came all this way… What? What?" At the surface level, abiding sounds boring. It sounds lame. It's just like Jesus, to flip it all upside down. It's the exact opposite.

Internally, what's going on is it's dynamic. It's the life-giving back-and-forth that happens, that when you look at these fruit trees, actually it's life being pushed out to the fruit. The fruit doesn't have to beg like, "Please give me nutrients." It gets pushed out. So when God is present, when you are connected to Jesus, His holy presence is being pushing to your life.

It's casting out fear. It's putting His presence in you. It's giving you identity, purpose, belonging. It changes the game. And all of a sudden, His holy love, it's filling you, and you're going, "Man, that kind of love, it changes my desires? That changes your heart, your heart biblically?" That's what you really believe and what you think has to be, or that's where it resides. And then it changes your mind. It's the renewing of the mind. It all flows together.

So your love informs your knowledge. You don't just get obsessed by the knowledge and study something arbitrarily. Does that make sense? Abiding is a big deal. I'm kind of passionate about it. Can you tell? I can get going. I got to have a whole ’nother message just on this, but I'm going to keep moving here.

We're going to land the plane with this, okay? Are you tracking with me? All right. I'm going to give you four ideas on how I think we can help Gen Z develop some rhythms of abiding. We're going to hear a lot on the reasons and the relationship pieces, but I want to talk about some rhythms. I'm working on spiritual formation. So here's four ideas. Some of these aren't going to be exactly new, but I have seen them missing so far, generally in Gen Z in my studies.

So here's the first one. How do we help Gen Z learn to abide in Christ so they can live this redemptive narrative? This first rhythm to help you abide is Sabbath. That's not a new concept, but it is woefully just not happening. It's one of ten commandments, right? You know that. But it's interesting. I went back in my research, all the ancient church fathers and mothers don't even mention Sabbath. Why do you think that is?

Because their regular rhythm of life was the Sabbath. It's only in the last 150 years where we're like, "Sabbath? What's that? That's lame. We got to just get cranking." In America, we've lost that. It used to be built into our culture, right? A lot of businesses were closed on Sundays, right? Not so much now. It's interesting, isn't it? All of our modern progress, our conveniences. We sleep less than seven hours a night on average. We work way more than forty hours, or maybe now we don't. I don't know. We work a lot. We can't unplug.

For all these things, we're increasingly anxious, and Gen Z just like us, all of us, we need some margin. We need some time to live this redemptive narrative. By the way, God put it in the week for a reason. Right? It's part of his holy rhythm. So what would look like to have a Sabbath that isn't just, yes, go to church, go to worship. But how could the rest of that day? How could it be life-giving? How could you help the Gen Zer in your life live a better adventure, live this walk with Jesus, help them just lean into a redemptive narrative?

What would that look like? That's up to you and Jesus to talk about. Second one, you got to have food. You're following Jesus. You know there's food, right?

Audience: Amen.

John: This one… Amen. There we go. I mean, Last Supper, marriage of the Lamb. Come on, it's all over the Bible. This rhythm is all about time around the table. You call it radical hospitality. I think this is just a major just goldmine waiting to happen when it comes to Gen Z and hop with them, learn to abide in Jesus.

Harvard did a study on this recently. Talked about the benefits of family meal time. They found out that it is decreasing rapidly. Only 30% of families eat dinner together. That means 70%, I'm no math major, but the majority are not. So I'm not saying that every, every time every meal can be like this feast and it's amazing. And it's awesome. We have cereal Sunday to help our Sabbath day. I know it's not nutritious, but it makes our family work. And I won't lie.

Sometimes Cereal Sunday becomes Cereal Monday, right? It happens. The Gen Zers in your life, your parents or whoever you're with, are you ever getting some time around the table? Time around the table is significant. Gen Z needs it. It's intentional. It's a great place to belong. Who could be around your table?

Who could you grab a coffee with of Gen Z in your life? Maybe it's a student or someone you're coaching or a grandchild, an aunt, uncle, your kids. I don't know. A fellow just Gen Zer, get together where you could celebrate life. What's God saying? What's Jesus doing? Gen Z is looking for us older adults to say, "Is this faith for real, or is this something you just do casually on Sundays and doesn't affect the rest of your life and your thinking?"

Christian Smith wrote another book called passing on the faith, and it's about parents. And he says, "Gen Z isn't brought to faith solely through just philosophical arguments." His research shows it's primary through relationships, specifically relationships of parents. His research is showing that kids are looking. Gen Z is looking, looking, looking, "Are my parents legit in this? Are they actually living this out? Are we having conversations about what's happening in the world, real-time conversation?" And I think meals are a great place to do it.

It's not new, but it's not happening. It's a great way for us to dive in. This is something that you, as a mentor, as someone you're discipling, you can have some time around the table. What would that look like for you? It's amazing what food can do. And God has used the power of a table over the years. Time and time again, as a sacred space where intentional truths are passed on, conversations are had, and you create margin again for Jesus.

Worst-case scenario, you get a good meal out of it. Okay? So that's two. Number three, got to be obvious. Curate technology is the third rhythm. So you've got Sabbath. You've got time I'm around the table or radical hospitality, and you got curating technology. Now, probably even today, were you standing in line somewhere today? What were most people doing? On their phone, right? I've done it, you've done it. We've all done it, right? I'm not trying to be an old curmudgeon. I don't hate technology. I'm just saying sometimes it can be a barrier.

Do you know what they say? The average American touches their phone over 2,600 times a day. If you're a germophobe, you should be by now, right? You want to probably wipe your things down. We touch our phones a lot, Gen Z especially. They've grown up with this distraction, again, constantly. There's some folks that I even heard, they have FOMO, fear of missing out, right? If you don't know that term. They have it so bad, they will shower with their phone.

There is a term for this. It's called nomophobia. It's the fear of being without my phone. It is almost become an appendage. Technology is redefining our relationships and our worldview. Screens are now a source of truth. If I can find it on YouTube, it must be true. On average, Gen Z is spending nine hours a day on a screen. Children are given screens early and often with very little, many times supervision. Even if you give screen time, like a limited half hour, hour, whatever you're doing, many times parents have no idea. The online life, their Gen Zer is actually looking at it.

The algorithms that are shaping them. Man, don't…don't even get me going on social media. That's redefining relationships. There's such pressure. Be an influencer, promote yourself, be a big deal. And also you've got to curate your identity. The average Gen Zer has five fake Instagram accounts. Did you know that?

People have, students have told me, they can't keep track of which identity they're curating. But they got to impress. They got to promote theirself, project themself. They got to make sure their highlight reel is better than your highlight reel. Because that's real life. It's reshaping what relationship and friend means. I'm not hating on it. I'm just giving you some info.

Gaming online. Again, parents, those who are mentoring Gen Z's, you might even know, they could easily be playing games with anyone around the world. It's just reshaping. But they're also having new communities and friends. They're also reaching people in ways we've never reached. There's not just FOMO now. If you thought like missing out on an opportunity, have you ever felt that left out feeling where you're like why didn't I get to go on vacation? How come I didn't get invited to that party?

Now there's on top of that, there's FOMU, fear of messing up. There's such a pressure academically to perform, to be the best athlete, mathlete, you name it. They put this pressure. They feel it. And then of course the pandemic, again, it has reduced our face time and increased our online time. Again, I'm not a curmudgeon. I love technology. I love being able to connect with people around the world and around the country. I'm just saying it can be a barrier if we don't curate it.

So a couple ideas for you. Okay? Are you with me? I'm landing the plane. Here we go. We're coming in. Okay? Palm Desert. All right. So what would look like for you and your Gen Z in your life to create some sacred spaces for technology? Example, maybe whenever you're in a car together, no phone. Anytime you're on the table. Nope, we're not going to use a phone. We're going to actually do this thing. We're going to look at each other. We're going to talk. What if at night, your phone wasn't your alarm.

What if you went old school? They have these cool things called clocks. You can find them on eBay. It's amazing. They still have them. You can get them, okay? You could also get a rooster if you're more into the eco-friendly kind of thing. Also works really well. What would it look like to set your phone down in the same spot maybe every day and not be tethered to it?

Okay. This one, you're just going to boo me off the stage. If you're a Gen Zer, I'm so sorry. I love you. But what if you turned your phone off for an hour? What if you turned it off for a whole Sabbath? I don't know. What would happen? What would curating technology in your life… I love it. It's great. But I don't want to be distracted. I don't want to be shaped by the secular narrative that is slowly wooing me away from abiding in Jesus. I'm just saying. All right. Last one. Are you ready? That was terrible. Are you ready?

Audience: Yeah.

John: All right. “We're ready for you to be done.” Yeah. All right. I call this one soaking. I don't think I made it up, but I'm going to say I did for now. It's soaking in God's presence, and I love this picture not just because it's my son, Caleb. That helps, but like, okay, what's happening in this picture? Here's…so you know, Caleb is about to get drenched. Okay? He's just fishing in the ocean here. And this wave is about to just nail him. He doesn't care. I think, man, one of the most beautiful places that we get help the next generation learn to walk in is spending some extra time soaking in Jesus' presence. I don't think Caleb even has bait on this line. I think he's just like, "Woo."

There's something so freeing about that, where you're not coming to Jesus' presence saying like, "Give me, give me, give me, give me. I want, I need. Give me, give me, give me." That's a What About Bob? reference. If you don't know it, you're too young to know. Okay. Man, you're just saying, "I'm just going to hang out with Jesus. I'm going to spend some time in His… I'm meditating on his Word. I'm going to listen to some music. Not some other music that's telling me this depressing stuff. I'm listening to some life-giving something. I'm going to let it wash over me."

"Maybe I'm going to take a beautiful walk in his creation and just have some silence and solitude, which may seem scary, but maybe if you're outside, Jesus shows up and meets you. Soak in His presence. Maybe you journal a verse. Maybe use some of the tried-and-true ancient paths of Lectio Divina, where you're putting yourself into the scripture passage.

I don't know. But spend some time soaking in His presence. Man, extra time with Jesus is never wasted time. We need that same power that shaped Jesus' ministry to help us shape the next generation, to shape this redemptive narrative. I love how Dallas Willard says it: "We can become like Christ and character and in power." Man, we need that message.

We're not just incapacitated without victory, without power. He gives us power, and that's the heart of the New Testament message. We will learn to be like Jesus and live as He lived. Amen?

Audience: Amen.

John: That's the same thing Jesus did. Isn't it? He had the power of the Holy Spirit. I would argue He practiced these rhythms of abiding. Probably the technology one, it was a little different. He spent time with the Father. He had Sabbath. He had relationships. He had time around the table. Everything Jesus did, He was filled and formed. You abide in the Father, filled and formed and then sent out.

Let's pray. Jesus, you’re on the move. God, you're working through the whole body of Christ, the different generations, you're coming together. Visions and dreams, you are moving. So God, we invite you to move in this next generation to help us be a part, helping them live this incredible redemptive narrative God. Help them develop these rhythms of abiding that are life-giving, and they help us walk with them and to empower them to do new things, redemptive things beyond what probably we can think are or imagine, God. But you're calling. You're moving.

So during the rest of this conference, God, we want to just not analyze data and research, we want solid reasons, but God, we invite your spirit to continue to change our hearts, to led Gen Z on our minds to build those relationships so that we can empower them, God. So fill them, form them, send them out, Jesus. And all God's people said…

Audience: Amen.

John: Amen.

Connor: We're so glad that you joined us for today's bonus episode. I hope it encouraged you and it's given you some helpful tools as you walk with your Gen Zer on their spiritual journey. This was our first bonus episode, and we're going to do some more throughout the summer with professionals who are walking with Gen Z, pastors, and others who have influence with the next generation. So be on the lookout for those bonus episodes over the coming weeks and months.

And thanks for joining us today as we pray for and walk with the next generation as they seek to use their gifts, and talents, and experiences to journey with Jesus and participate in the Great Commission. Thanks for sharing The Approach with others and rating and reviewing it, as this helps others find the podcast and go on the journey with us. For some of our resources, you can check out our show notes on our website at

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