Have you ever sat at the table with a teenager who does not stop chatting on their smartphone while you talk with them? It happened to my friend while we were having dinner at his home. We spoke about how to raise a new generation for Jesus. I mean, he spoke, I listened, and his daughter chatted. It took only a few minutes until my friend expressed his discontent to his daughter, thinking that she doesn’t listen to him. The reaction of the young lady taught me a great lesson. “I listen, but I share your thoughts with my friend in China so that she can be part of our discussion.”, she replied to her father.
This is Gen Z. The sociologists speak about a generation of virtual communitarianism. This describes the great desire of the young generation to have strong relationships with those who might be close or far. Gen Z can have fellowship with people across the table and around the world at the very same moment. Gen Z is a generation which wants to be together, to learn from each other without the inconvenience of being in the same place at the same time.
These are great perspectives for the world of missions. This reminds me of the words of Jesus in Acts 1 :8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” For a long time, I asked myself how I could be this witness as well, in the local place I live, in my region, in my nation and even on an international scale.
Gen Z gives me the answer. Discipleship means training people, and this means relationship. We can train people by living a relationship with them. We can show people intentionality without being in the same room as them. We can reach this generation with the gospel and train them as disciples if we allow them to integrate their friends from other places in the world via their tablets and smartphones around our table. When I explained this to my friend, his daughter looked up and said, “Dad, finally someone from your generation understands us.”
Today I train leaders from different nations at the same time through video-chats. Perhaps you have never left your country and have never thought of influencing people in other parts of the world. Today Gen Z teaches me, as a 55-year-old grandfather, that Jesus can give me people to train and to disciple even in other nations, so that they know how to follow our Savior and to put their faith into action. We live in probably one of the most remarkable times in history where the mission of Jesus can be accomplished by a church that invites the nations around their virtual and physical table at the same time.
By: Björn Lütke
For more information about Björn, click here.