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I never imagined parenting teenagers could be this challenging. Sometimes I wonder why Ephesians 6 doesn’t command children not to exasperate their parents. The ideology of western culture has conditioned our teens and children to believe that they can create their identity and become whatever they want.

Groups of young people now identify as furries. They believe gender is fluid. Much of their entertainment ranging from social media to music to streaming services motivates them not only to create themselves but to cancel anyone who doesn’t celebrate their identity of choice. If you attempt to dialogue with them, you are told you don’t love them. We long to help but don’t know how.

In wanting to maintain a relationship with our youth, many have given up engaging them with the gospel.

We don’t even know where to start and we fear them canceling us. When my generation encountered the gospel, someone may have explained to us the rationale for the existence of God, or evidence for the reliability of Scripture, or proofs for the resurrection of Jesus. For most of Gen Z, none of that matters.

Complicating our attempts to share God’s love is the fact that they don’t experience guilt the same way we did. They don’t believe they are accountable to anyone but themselves.

Western Culture’s Ideological Shift

In the last 40 years we have experienced the greatest shift in Western culture’s ideology since the inception of North America. Our culture has moved from assuming God’s existence, to denying God’s existence, to assuming His non-existence.  At one time, many knew they had broken God’s law fracturing their relationship with Him. In longing to restore that relationship we were rightly taught to trust the One who kept God’s law perfectly and died in our place.

This generation doesn’t believe God exists and consequently doesn’t believe He has any requirements. Because they don’t know His law, they don’t experience guilt when breaking it. This shouldn’t surprise us, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” Romans 7:7 NIV.

Compounding this is the mental heath crisis that was and amplified through COVID. As Jean Twenge wrote in 2018, “iGen is on the verge of the most severe mental health crisis for young people in decades. On the surface, though, everything is fine” iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us. Their posts boast a best life ever narrative.

So how does one share the Gospel with a generation who assumes God’s nonexistence, cancels out anyone they disagree with, views dialogue as hate and doesn’t experience guilt when they sin? Where do you even start? As I offer a few thoughts, I want you to know that I’m on this journey with you, discovering how to engage our young adults and teens.

Three Ways to Engage with Young Adults and Teens

Firstly, we must understand the crushing affects of this philosophy. Young people can’t live up to the persona they have created. Most of them project a ‘perfect’ image on their social media platforms and are called out when they say or do something inconsistent with their persona. Their greatest fear is being cancelled.

Secondly, we need to recognize what they value. Gen Z values diversity, justice, environmentalism, caring for the poor and acceptance.

Thirdly, we need to discern where the gospel intersects with their philosophy.

I believe the best way to connect with Gen Z is to convey both who our King is and what His Kingdom is like. They need to see the beauty of the gospel and long for it to be true. Then they see the emptiness of what they have embraced and turn to Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:20 remains true, “Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

What Gen Z is longing for, is central to His Kingship and Kingdom.

His Kingdom is diverse. God is saving people from every language, custom and tribe. Revelation 7:9 reminds us of His how welcoming His love is. The cross is the great equalizer. All of us desperately need the grace of God. We bring nothing but our sin to His cross, longing for salvation. The number of believers He is saving in Asia, Central America, South America, and Africa speaks to His love for all humanity. There is no room for racism among His people. The church should be the one place where people with various educational achievements, from numerous socio-economic backgrounds, with various degrees of mental health illnesses who are from an array of cultures; gather to worship our God. A place where leadership is determined by Christlikeness. A place where Christ, as our common denominator, unites us. Nothing is more gloriously diverse than His Kingdom.

Our God is a God of justice. He hates injustice. He hates sin more than we do. He is always, only, ever against evil. Evil however, must be defined by God and not us. God’s justice is holy and right. Isaiah 58 reminds us that we are not only to loosen the chains of injustice but we are to break them so they can never enslave anyone again. God reigns justly.

God cares about His creation. He has called His people to care for the world He entrusted us to. Not only is God restoring us, but also His creation. No one should care more about creation care than God’s children because God cares for His creation.

God loves the poor. In Luke 14, Jesus reminds us of God’s heart for the poor (whomever they are). In James 1 we are called to care for the orphan and widow and in James 2 we are commanded to not show favouritism as we worship together and help those in need. No one should care more for the impoverished than God’s people. Acts 2 and Acts 4 records that there were no needy among the early church family. It’s not that everyone has an equal share but we all should have a fair share. God has a heart for the impoverished and His church must reflect His heart.

God not only accepts people into His family…He adopts us in. He calls us His children…His daughters and sons. He treats us the way Christ deserves. That’s why we will be declared innocent. God treated Christ the way we deserved on the cross, so that He could treat us the way Christ deserves in judgement. We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.

But the news only gets better. Our identity isn’t something we create but rather something we receive from God. It is His gift to us. He is the one who has knit us together. They don’t need to live up to a persona they have created but rather can enjoy the person God has created and gifted them to be. To combat their greatest fear, we worship a God who will never cancel them out. The work He begins in someone, He will see to completion. In essence, God canceled His Son on the cross to welcome us in. What good news to a generation who fears being cancelled. Philippians 2 explains that Jesus gave up His privilege and power so He could save us. What good news to a generation suspect of all privilege and power.

I believe when they see how diverse, just, compassionate and accepting His Kingdom is and realize His care not only for His creation but in His creation supremely for His children whom He has created and will never cancel out, that they will turn from their empty and enslaving ideology to the Living God. And as they learn God’s law, His Spirt will bring conviction so they can experience the grace of a forgiving God who restores relationship by way of the sacrifice of His Son.

And so, God, give me wisdom and patience. I have four Gen Z kids.


Dwayne and his wife are raising four Gen Zers. He will take a more in depth look at reaching Gen Z at his workshop at the TGC National Conference in November.