Dr. Jeremiah Johnston hosts apologists, Dr. Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace, to talk about reaching Generation Z – generally those between the ages of about 3 and 20. The two guests wrote, “So the Next Generation Will Know.”
“Generation Z members are more reluctant to define themselves by faith and religion,” McDowell says. “About 30 percent or more don’t identify with a particular religion. There’s reason to pay attention and to be concerned.”
Yet, reaching young people can come through authentic connections. “The most influential truth claims are the ones you make in the context of relationship,” Wallace says. Youth are more likely to listen, understand, and think through ideas that have been presented within a healthy relationship.
The men point to the Apostle Paul, who often referenced his relationships with the people to whom he was writing. McDowell says students often don’t believe in Christianity’s claims because they are convinced it’s not true or they have broken relationships. “If we really want to influence them, we have to step personally into their lives and build relational capital to speak into their lives,” he says.
Sometimes, showing love and building relationships is less about talking and more about participating in activities that are meaningful to young people, such as sports or watching wholesome entertainment. “What we’re encouraging parents to do in the book is to just open our eyes and see the opportunities that are in front of us and try to leverage them without exasperating our kids,” McDowell says. “Use opportunities to build relationships and to teach truth.”
While many people care deeply about the philosophical implications of Christianity, many are looking primarily at how it affects their daily lives and what it means to their loved ones.
A show listener, Sarah, asks how to reach a non-Christian for Jesus Christ. Johnston tells her to reveal to others why Christianity matters to her. “Sharing your personal transformation with Jesus Christ is the most effective way,” he says. He encourages believers to write out their testimonies and be prepared to share stories of life change because of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Sean McDowell is an assistant professor in Biola University’s Christian Apologetics program and the resident scholar for Summit California, He is a speaker, storyteller, author, coauthor and editor. J. Warner Wallace is a detective, national speaker and selling author. He serves as an adjunct professor of Apologetics at Biola University and as a faculty member for Summit Ministries. Warner is the creator of the Cold-Case Christianity website, blog, and podcast. He is the author of several books.