Please login to continue
Having Trouble Logging In?
Reset your password
Don't have an account?
Sign Up Now!
Register for a Free Account
Choose Password
Confirm Password

Your account has been created!

Identity (Part 1)

Identity (Part 1)


Listen on Spotify, Apple, and Google

Episode Overview

What types of narratives are the next generation being told? And which ones are they listening to? Often, what we are told about ourselves is what we believe to be true. However, the thing we think is true of us may not actually be true. So, as we seek to help the next generation find their identity in Christ, we should remind them of this reality and use words like chosen and adopted, holy and blameless, faithful and forgiven. Join us as we pray that Gen Z will begin to find their identity in Christ and allow that to be the reality that shape and defines who they are. 


Nathan and Cydil Waggoner seek to live out the spirit of adoption, communicating the Good News of a heavenly Father who is pursuing orphans of the world to bring them into His family so they can find their identity in Him. Nathan and Cydil, along with their two children—Ellie and Reni—have served in Albania since 2013. Prior to this, they served as the directors of WGM's Student Involvement Center at Asbury University, where they both graduated from. 

Show Notes
Read the Script

Connor: Welcome to The Approach, where we help you walk with the next generation as they seek to use their gifts and their talents and their experiences to journey with Jesus and participate in the Great Commission. On this micro cast, we want to give you a snapshot of the next generation and provide you with some tools to disciple and empower and pray for the next generation, whether you are a parent, teacher, coach, a mentor, or a friend.

I'm Connor Owen, and I'm joined by John Rineheimer, and we both serve on staff at WGM. And today, we're going to talk about Gen Z and where they are looking for their identity. And just from the get-go, this is a big topic. We are not going to try to cover all of this topic on this episode. We will revisit this, so stick with us. But today, we're going to talk about just one part of identity within Gen Z. So, John, as you've been researching this, what are you discovering?

John: Yeah, like you said, tons of information out there, but let me start with this. Connor, did you have a nickname growing up? If so, what was it?

Connor: So I wanted it to be Conn Air, like Michael Jordan. My leaping ability, though, kept me from having that as my nickname.

John: I play with you. Your vertical is pretty good, but in comparison to me, that's probably not saying a lot.

Connor: No, not a lot.

John: I don't know. I still like it. But my reason to ask you that is because there's actually a whole field of study dedicated to names. It's called nominative determinism.

Connor: It's very catchy.

John: I feel like it's a tongue-twister for sure. But the idea around this field of study is that our names shape the outcome of our lives. And then here's a few, just to give you an idea to illustrate this:

  • Dr. Richard Payne is known for his expertise in the field of pain relief.
  • Derek Kickoff is an NFL kicker.
  • Dr. Lee Popwell is a chiropractor.
  • And Usain Bolt was, at one time, the fastest man in the world.
  • Last one, just to see if you can guess this one. Dr. Randall Toothaker is, of course, a—

Connor: Cardiologist.

John: Very close. Half credit. Dentist.

Connor: Okay. So the point, I guess, you're trying to make is that not so much what your name is determines who you are, what you become, but what people call you can shape your life.

John: Exactly. I've heard identity described a lot of different ways, but one way I really like—identity is defined as the truest thing about you. The funny thing is, the truest thing about you may not actually be true, if that makes any kind of sense. So maybe you have a teacher, a coach, a parent, and maybe they would say things to you like, "Why can't you be more like your sister or your brother?" Or maybe they said harsh things like, "You're worthless,” or, “You're not going to amount to anything,” or, “You're never going to be a starter," or something like that. But they also could say positive things.

But particularly, those lies that they maybe be spoken to your life, or I would call them lies, they begin to shape your life. And so that's what was called out in you. It's what you started to believe was true. Some researchers have said, and I think there's a lot to it, that Gen Z, what they're viewing on screens is becoming the basis for truth for them. And this is significantly influencing their identity.

Connor: So we might hear this in a conversation with a Gen Zer if they say something like, "Oh, I saw this on YouTube or TikTok,” or, “I Googled this." And suddenly, that becomes reality and that becomes part of their identity.

John: Yeah, absolutely. It's they feel like it's just true, because it's out there—it must be true. And so, always got to bring this back to Scripture. And so, what's the Bible say about identity? And there's a lot. And one of the phrases that Scripture uses is, talk about identity is, in Christ. And that phrase, in Christ, occurs a bunch in the New Testament, at least 160 times.

And Paul says it this way, Apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians, chapter four, verse one. He says, "Lead a life worthy of your calling." So, literally translated, “live a life worthy of what God has called you.” So what does he say? You look at the book of Ephesians, for example, God says, "You're chosen and adopted. Holy and blameless love, redeem, faithful, forgiven. You're no longer [inaudible 00:04:24]. You're alive in Christ." And these are the kinds of truth, Connor, that I believe we need to be speaking into the next generation as we walk with them and help shape their identity, call out the great things that God wants to build into them.

Connor: Yeah. This is the reality, John, that we get to speak into the next generation and remind them of who they are in Christ.

So as usual, we want to change gears here and we want to pray with you the listener as you walk with Gen Z and help them find their identity in Christ. And to do that, we have longtime missionaries with WGM, Nathan and Cydil Waggoner, who serve in Albania, who have a heart for the next generation. And they're going to lead us today in that prayer to help Gen Z find their identity in Christ.

Nathan Waggoner: Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:16–20:

I pray that from his glorious unlimited resources, that he will empower you with inner strength through his spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will go down into God's love and keep you strong.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.

Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now, all the glory to God who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Cydil Waggoner: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you are our Father. Thank you that you know us by name, you call us by name, you long for every one of us to be part of your family. Lord, may Gen Z hear your voice speaking truth into their hearts that they were created by you and that they are valued by you, that they are enough in you. Lord, we pray that Gen Z would allow your truth to define them, not the lies of the world. We pray that they would know that they do not have to strive to be good enough to be worthy of your love and acceptance. Lord, help them find their purpose and identity in you. We pray this in the powerful name of your son, Jesus. Amen.

Nathan Waggoner: Amen.

Connor: Thank you so much, Nathan and Cydil, for joining us and for praying over Gen Z, that they find their identity in Christ. And we hope that those of you who are walking with Gen Z can pray this prayer over the coming weeks to help them find their identity in Christ as well.

Well, thanks for joining us on The Approach, where we help you walk with the next generation as they seek to use their gifts, talents, and experiences to journey with Jesus and participate in the Great Commission. Join us next time as we continue to dive into knowing Gen Z and praying for them. Be sure to like or subscribe to us, and if you have any questions, email us at


Support a Missionary
Global Impact Fund
Advancing the Great Commission through your partnership.