Lazy. Entitled. No attention span. Selfish. Self-centered. Addicted to technology.
This is some of what you hear when it comes to Gen Z. Sometimes it can be accurate.
But, there’s a shift happening. And I’m here to testify.
I’ve been leading youth ministry for over twenty years. I love it! I love watching a pre-teen or teenager encounter the love of God and then dive into an intimate relationship with Him. I love watching fruit become much fruit in and through their lives.
The youth ministry at my church always goes to summer camp at some kind of fun retreat center. The kids love it! There’s always a beautiful property filled with trails and games like basketball and volleyball. And then, there’s the best part — the lake. They high dive and swim and live their best lives.
This year, our youth pastors wanted the youth to be more engaged with outreach. So, they decided to merge the youth retreat with the church’s Mega Sports Camp for ages 4-10. The camp would need leaders for the sports activities and small group leaders and overall help with the little kids.
Needless to say, a few of the youth were not excited about the change of plans. There were unhappy faces and slight complaining. But little did they know, the Lord had His own plans for the week that included some pruning and refining so that He could produce much fruit in them.
For the week of camp, the youth surrendered their phones. They grumbled a bit and thought it was the end of the world . . . but through the week their attentions and desires changed. They enjoyed conversations and games and being kids all without any distractions. New friendships were made. Old ones grew stronger. Disagreements were resolved. And a lifetime of memories were made. Their eyes, hearts, ears, and spirits become attuned to the frequency of Heaven. They began to do what the Father was doing and say what the Father was saying.
The first day of camp felt like an eternity. It was a good tired, the kind where you know you’ve poured out all that the Lord has poured into you. The youth spent each morning praying for the kids coming to the Sports Camp. They stayed at a 10 with their energy so the kids would stay engaged and feel loved and encouraged. It was supernatural. It was Philippians 4:13 in action: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” It wasn’t their strength at all. It was the Holy Spirit filling them up to overflow with His power and grace for what He called them to that week.
From the first day of camp to the last, I watched each of our youth work hard, play hard, and sweat hard in our Louisiana summer. They led sports sessions and huddle groups talking about Jesus. They cheered on the little kids. They picked up trash around the church property, and set up and tore down tables and chairs countless times.
Throughout the week I saw Colossians 3:2 come to life: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
Leading a kids’ sports camp was not the thing the youth would have chosen on their own. But, the testimonies by the end of the week were nothing short of amazing.
One by one, they said how they weren’t excited about being a part of the sports camp, but how the Lord changed their hearts. They had fun and funny moments with the kids. They saw how much the kids looked up to them. They led discussions about Jesus, even sharing the Gospel with kids who had never heard it before.
God gave them a new perspective through serving, especially when it wasn’t what they wanted to do. It wasn’t convenient. It wasn’t in their comfort zone.
This is the shift! The Lord is doing deep heart work in Gen Z. He’s teaching them how to take their eyes off of themselves and how to first set them on Him. And then, how to see the needs around them.
He’s giving them a burden to further the Kingdom despite the cost.
He’s creating a hunger inside of them to linger in His presence.
They’re discovering how to pray for each other in faith that the Lord will respond.
They’re learning to esteem others as more highly than themselves.
He’s stirring up generosity in them to give whatever is in their hands — time, talent, resources, energy.
They’re wanting the absolute truth of God and not the subjective truth of the world.
They’re searching for the move of God in expected and unexpected places.
The most exciting part is that He’s not done. This is only the beginning of this new wave of revival. It’s starting with Gen Z but not limited to them. It’s spilling over. Their zeal for the Lord and the Gospel is fanning the flame inside of all generations alive today on the earth.
That’s God’s heart and plan, that ALL of His children would have a passion for Him and the things of Him. That we would see with His eyes of compassion, love, forgiveness, and grace. That we would serve sacrificially and joyfully. That we would ALL function as the Body of Christ to reach a lost world for His name’s sake.
I’d love to hear any stories where serving gave you a new perspective, or pray for a current struggle if you need to find that new perspective!