Tag Archive: Generation Z

  1. IGNITE CONFERENCE 2015: HOW TO INNOVATE (in case you missed it)

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    What a day! IGNITE Children’s Ministry Conference and Expo is the annual training event for our leaders of children’s ministries, or for anyone who wants to be empowered to disciple kids…

    Ignite gathers children’s ministry workers of all denominations across our state, and brings them together to hear inspiring key note speakers, empowering electives, as well as encourage attendees and leaders alike that we really are working together to make disciples of children in our homes, churches, schools and communities.

    Over 700 people attended Ignite this year– each year us Baptists take up the greatest cohort of these delegates, and it is such a great time to connect with each other, encourage each other and learn from each other.

    The theme of Ignite this year was INNOVATE. The dictionary defines it like this:

    “to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.”

    Change is hard! New ideas don’t always come easily! But in today’s ever-changing culture, we were reminded that it is important to stay relevant. Our key note speaker, David Wakerley, Kids Pastor at Hillsong church innovator-extraordinaire said, “Being relevant to kids means being where the kids are. If the kids are into video games, or whatever it is, that’s where we’ve got to be, because if we aren’t there, someone else will be.” It was a great challenge to our leaders and kids’ workers – are we meeting the kids where they are? Are we being innovative?

    I’ve talked before about the greatness of Generation Z. They are ‘doers’. They don’t just want to sit on the sidelines of life and learn by observation, they want to be involved, giving it a go, and getting their hands dirty. Research states, “Typical training style preferred by Gen Z is interactive and multi-modal, while their key communication tools involve hands on learning and participation. Their leadership style is through consensus and feelers, their influences and values are global and short-term wants, while their management approach is involving and revolving around the statement ‘here’s what I think’.”(generationz.com.au) So to keep up with this active, involved, ‘here’s what I think’ generation, we need to be constantly innovating new and engaging ways to involve kids in our ministries. Jesus literally placed a child ‘in their midst’ when He was teaching His disciples (Matthew 18:2). This was astounding in Jesus’ time! No one looked to children as ‘the greatest in the Kingdom’ – they were the ‘least’ ! Surely Jesus is the greatest example we have for being innovative – His teachings turned things upside down! So how can we be ‘innovative’ and ‘challenging’ in our own culture, as Jesus was, to be engaging this generation of movers and shakers?

    To be innovative like Jesus, we need to see kids in the light that Jesus did. Literally, “in our midst.” There are kids in our homes, kids in our streets, kids in our schools, kids in our churches, kids in our communities, kids everywhere. They are in our midst. And they all want to be involved. If we are going to be making any kind of difference, if we are going to try and innovate a way to reach kids for the gospel, we need to find a way to get them involved. Moving their faith from head-knowledge, to heart-felt faith and then seeing their hands move into action. If we are going to be relevant and reach kids of Generation Z, we need to involve them!

    We need to focus on making disciples who are making disciples. We need to communicate to kids that we don’t just ‘cater’ for them at church, but that they are vital members of our church and that they can be involved in the church’s mission. Michelle Anthony, author of “Dreaming of More for the Next Generation” says we can teach kids… “how to look like a Christian in 10 easy steps…because good behavior looks so much like faith on the outside. The children look well-mannered, they go to church, they bring their Bibles, they memorize their verses, they say they’re sorry when they’ve hurt someone, they may go on mission trips, they may give some money as an offering, and they participate in selfless acts of kindness. When we’ve taught them these things, it’s tempting for us to say to ourselves, “Good job! Look how spiritual my child is!””. But Jesus doesn’t kids to look like Christians. He wants us to make disciples, who make disciples.

    When we are discipling kids, we want to give them opportunities to put their faith into action – to do great things! To see them leading each other in worship, talking to their friends about the gospel, welcoming people to church, serving other kids and adults in the church and community- this is the goal of discipleship! To see heartfelt, passionate faith in action, to see disciples of Jesus make disciples! Kids today are asking for the opportunity, so let’s give them the chance to be involved. Let’s be innovative enough to foster a culture that not only teaches children to serve others, but also gives them a chance to do that. When Jesus was speaking to His disciples about going on to make disciples of all nations, He told them they would go on to do greater things than He! Jesus gave opportunities for His disciples to not just serve others, but set them up to do them greatly! (John 14:12.) This means giving kids opportunities to serve, the responsibility to lead, and the authority to have influence for the work of the gospel. It’s time for us to step up and be innovative. To “introduce something new; make changes in anything established.” If we truly want to see children as disciples of Jesus, let’s make disciples who are equipped and empowered to make disciples. They are ready. Are we?

    “Many things can wait. Children cannot. Right now their bones are being formed, their blood is being made, and their senses are being developed. To them we cannot answer “Tomorrow.” Their name is Today.” Gabriela Mistral, – Their name is Today

  2. Generation Z: The Movers and the Shakers

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    “the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation ever…They are the up-agers, with influence beyond their years. They are the tweens, the teens, the youth and young adults of our global society. They are the early adopters, the brand influencers, the social media drivers, the pop-culture leaders. They comprise nearly 2 billion people globally, and they don’t just represent the future, they represent they’re creating it.”

    Sunday mornings are the highlight of my week. Particularly the chunk of time between 930 and 1130am. Like all good times, it flies by, but I do my best to let myself really take it all in, because this chunk of time contains some of my most precious memories. Not only is it the culmination of a whole week’s hard work coming together in one great, big, loud, messy, crazy mash-up of bible teaching and worship (and craft sometimes)– but it is also the time I get to spend listening to the kids and hang out with them –hearing about their weeks and what they got up to.

    My absolute favourite thing to do with the kids is to ask them to tell me the biggest thing that happened to them over the last week. Sometimes the answers are tough, like, “We had to throw dirt on Poppy’s ‘coffum’ and Daddy cried,” or “I got left at school because mummy forgot me,” , and sometimes its something great like, “I got to ride in Nana’s car and eat fish and chips,” or “I stayed up until ten o’clock last night,” and “Dad only fast-forwarded one scene in the whole Star Wars movie and I watched all the rest and wasn’t scared.” I love hearing these stories because it reminds me that children’s worlds are made up of entirely different moments than mine. I hardly ever stop to appreciate riding in my nana’s car as the pivotal moment in my week, and if my dad fast-forwarded a scene in my movie I’d kindly ask him to stop sitting on the remote. But kids see things in an incredibly different way to adults- things that we adults so often don’t even notice can be incredible learning moments in children’s lives, and if we don’t stop to ask them what they are or how they feel, we can miss a chance to discuss their biggest hopes, fears, dreams and thoughts. My favourite thing to do with kids is simply listen to them, because they aren’t limited in what they will tell you by what they think you might want to hear. They simply tell you what’s on their mind and it’s beautiful.

    The current generation aged 4-18 right now is known as ‘Generation Z’. According to research, globally there are 2 billion of them, and they are known as

    the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation ever…They are the up-agers, with influence beyond their years. They are the tweens, the teens, the youth and young adults of our global society. They are the early adopters, the brand influencers, the social media drivers, the pop-culture leaders. They comprise nearly 2 billion people globally, and they don’t just represent the future, they’re creating it.”

    This generation is consistently being told by society, media, their families and each other that they can take on the world. That it is just waiting for them to step up and change it, and that they have the power to do so. And they believe it. Children of today don’t just watch things happen, they make things happen. Take ‘planking’, for example. One person, one time, decided it was funny to lie on something precarious, and before we knew it, planking was a fad, and every young person was trying to find something more precarious than the last to lie on and upload it to Youtube/Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat. Say what you want about the ‘bubble wrapped’ generation – the kids of today know how to make things happen. They are the ‘movers and the shakers’ of culture today.

    Consider the impact of that fact. A lot of people will look at Generation Z and write them off as ‘reckless’ young people (YOLO) who have ‘no regard for authority’ and are ‘entitled’ and ‘spend all their time looking at screens’. But they are so much more than this. These kids, on average, actually do use technology up to 10 hours a day. They average over 5 billion searches on google 4 billion on youtube each day. These kids are connected, and aware, and involved. It is estimated that 1 in 2 Generation Z kids will have a university education in their life time, work 17 jobs and live in 15 homes. They are a generation of ‘try and see for ourselves’ and have emphasis on the ‘why and how’ of processes in their world, rather than the ‘what’. They are a generation ready to take on any cause they are passionate about, and WE are the ones called to help them see what is worthy of that passion.

    The leaders and influencers of Generation Z have a big job. God calls those who lead to ‘train up’ and ‘instruct’ the children in our lives. If this generation is truly going to rise up and change the world – if they really are the most connected, educated and sophisticated of all generations so far- then we need to be equipping them for what lies ahead. And the best way to do that is with the Gospel. The children of our world are showing us they are ready to stand for what they believe in – so what are we teaching them to believe?

    We need to be intentional about equipping the young people of this world about the Gospel. About it’s power, God’s grace, Jesus radical ways and His passionate love and grace. These are the things that Generation Z can hold on to and use their connections to share. If we are intentional about equipping children with the Gospel of Christ now – then the influence they have on this world will be for Jesus. Imagine the impact they could have on the world if they knew that this world is not about them – but about Jesus, and that their cause is to spread His gospel, and His grace. The time to start showing them is now. We need to show children that the only cause truly worth ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ about is Jesus Christ. If the children of this world truly do have the power to change it – then lets see it changed so that it is truly ‘on Earth as it is in Heaven’. Jesus taught radical changes when He came to earth, and equipping the generation of children today with these lessons can have an incredible impact on our world.

    Next time you have the chance to listen to a child tell you about the biggest thing in their week – take the time to invest in them by listening to what they have to say. When we show our interest in their lives and in their big moments, they will begin to trust us enough to listen to what we have to teach them. And when we teach them the Gospel and equip them with the gripping truth of the Gospel, we will really see the ‘movers and the shakers’ make their mark on this world for the better.All research and statistics courtesy of mccrindle.com.au and generationz.com.au
    Footnotes: http://generationz.com.auGenerationZ.com.au is an initiative of McCrindle. Here at McCrindle we have a passion for making research and data accessible and user-friendly.

    Post date: 23/06/2014Post Author: Sally Contessi

  3. KidsHope Australia: Strength and Flex

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    Wendy Jarrott-Smith’s role with the KIDS HOPE AUS Mentoring Program, is to assist churches in building a quality partnership with their local school, in the provision of Mentors for vulnerable children. At the present time, there are nearly 400 school-church partnerships, under the umbrella of KIDS HOPE AUS, across Australia, with approximately 4000 children being mentored each week

    Anyone who has lived in a ‘pole house’, as our family did for five years, will tell you about ‘the flex’. ‘The flex’ can be quite disconcerting when you first experience it. You know in your head, that the long poles, which are so prominent in this type of architecture, are driven down into bedrock (often to a depth of three metres or so), providing not only a unique appearance, but a high degree of strength. However, while the poles’ fixture in the bedrock provides the ‘hidden’ strength to support the structure, the towering poles above the ground, also have another quality – ‘flex’. This is what provides the experience of ‘sway’ and what makes pole houses so perfect for withstanding cyclonic winds. Cyclone-rated houses need to have just the right balance of strength and flexibility. If their construction is too rigid, they will fall heavily; and if too flimsy, they will literally be blown apart.

    How like life this is.
    How do we prepare for the storms of life which are thrown at us? More than that, how do we help the children, whom we minister to in our communities, to be ready to face all that life throws at them? For many of these precious children in our children’s clubs and Boy’s Brigades; Sunday Schools and R. E. classes; Children’s camps and KIDS HOPE AUS Programs…….everyday life may be like living inside a cyclone. Some have been forced to grow up too quickly, to witness violence and anger. Some may have been bullied, or have had to face circumstances which have left them feeling helpless and alone. Some may have become bitter and hardened by experiencing abuse or knowing what it feels like to be unwanted. Life has truly buffeted them.
    So how do we help these precious young people in our communities and churches, to be resilient in the face of all of this?

    We can build their ‘strength’ by:

    • Being a trustworthy adult in their lives
    • Listening attentively to them, and praying for their specific needs
    • Explicitly describing to them the strength and qualities we see in them
    • Taking care to remember facts about their lives that are important to them
    • Giving them the opportunity to have choices

    We can build their ‘flexibility’ by:

    • Reminding children they have options in how they respond to negative situations
    • Helping them see how YOU may handle difficulties or failure
    • Providing opportunities to take risks or to be courageous
    • Developing humour and positivity in our relationship with them
    • Giving them opportunities to make ‘real’ contributions to someone else

    One of my favourite quotes about parenting, which equally applies to our ministry with children, says,
    “The most precious gift we can give to our children is roots and wings”.
    No matter the ‘what’ or the ‘where’ of our ministry to children, those of us called to walk a little of life’s journey with them, can also give children roots and wings………and strength and flex……. as week to week we pray for them; be Jesus’ hands and feet to them; and spend time with them, helping them to stand strong through the storms of their world.
    Footnotes: http://www.worldvision.com.au/kidshopeWendy Jarrott-Smith’s role with the KIDS HOPE AUS Mentoring Program, is to assist churches in building a quality partnership with their local school, in the provision of Mentors for vulnerable children. At the present time, there are nearly 400 school-church partnerships, under the umbrella of KIDS HOPE AUS, across Australia, with approximately 4000 children being mentored each week.
    For more information about this vital work please contact Wendy on:
    0428 566 638 or wendy.jarrott-smith@worldvision.com.au or go to

    Post date: 16/06/2014Post Author: Sally Contessi

  4. What is “fruit that will last” ?

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    A question I am often asked about children’s ministry is “what program do you use for your ministry?”. 

    As the end of the year comes up quickly I am already looking at what programs are available for 2014. There is a smorgasbord of children’s ministry programs available, all fun, vibrant and informative. The choice is tough, because I want to choose one that is equally as fun as it is engaging with the Bible. I want kids who attend our church to know that Jesus is King and Saviour- but I also want them to have fun while they learn. There are so many programs available, I find myself asking what makes one program better than the rest; which would “grow more fruit” than the others.

    But what does it mean to have children ‘grow fruit’? How do you measure the spiritual ‘fruit’ of a child? How do you know when the lesson you’ve taught them has sunk from head to heart? James 2:17 tells us that faith without works is dead. When children start to use their hands to demonstrate what they know in their heart, then we can see real ‘fruit’. But what is this ‘fruit’? Is it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, as in Galatians chapter 5? Is it telling others about Jesus like He says in John 15? How do we know that what we are teaching will last?

    Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Yet statistics in Australia are telling us that once a child becomes an adolescent, they are much less likely to stay at church, and more often than not, leave church altogether. So what is this ‘fruit’ that will last and what do we teach that they ‘will not depart from it,’?

    While many children’s programs and lessons are vibrant, fun and informative, we often unintentionally measure their ‘fruit’ or effectiveness by how much Bible knowledge or moral conscience children have. But knowledge of how many colours in the rainbow in the story of Noah is not enough. Knowing the difference between a ‘whale’ and a ‘big fish’ in the story of Jonah is helpful, but not life-changing. Even memorizing Bible verses each week is ineffective if children have no idea why they are learning them. In a world where children know that there are ten commandments, but don’t know why God’s people were given them, and when children know that Zaccheus was short but not that Jesus forgave his sins, faith becomes little more than head knowledge. In that world, blessings become ‘gold stars’ that God ‘gives’ to ‘good people’ and sin is something that only ‘bad people’ do. There is no need for Jesus in that world – and that is not what we desire. In fact, we desire the opposite.

    We want children to know God. We want them to know that he made the rainbow as a promise to Noah, because God is good and His glory is magnificent. We want children to know that Jonah was swallowed by a ‘big fish’ in an act of undeserved grace by our loving heavenly Father. We want them to know the Bible. But more than that, we want them to know Jesus. Personally and authentically, for themselves. We want to see kids bringing their friends to church because they want them to hear about God’s love. We want to see kids praying for their world because they see the need for Jesus around them. We want to see them worshipping God in song because they are overwhelmed with the grace He has shown them. This is the fruit we strive for. Whether we talk about the ‘fruit’ of the Spirit in Galatians or the ‘fruit’ that is telling people about Jesus, children will only move from head-knowledge to heart-felt action when they are moved by God’s Holy Spirit.

    We are blessed to be able to partner with Him in this ministry. We get to see the Holy Spirit grow ‘fruit’ in children when we cease to try to do it ourselves with only programs. The best way we can make a real difference in the lives of children is to be like Him ourselves. Our love for Jesus should be so obvious in our ministry to children that they want it for themselves. If we want to see children grow ‘fruit’ and have faith that will last – it needs to start in our own lives.

    -If we want to see children passionate for Jesus Christ, we need to be passionate for Jesus Christ. (Be an example)
    -If we want to see children telling others about God’s love, we must tell others about God’s love. (Be an example)
    -If we want to see children praying to their Heavenly Father in all circumstances, first, guess what? We must pray often and with them! (Be an example)

    Fruit that will last stems from a heartfelt passion for Jesus – and that overflows into others’ lives. Children will want to tell their friends about Jesus love when they experience it for themselves. They won’t want to memorise bible verses to win prizes, they’ll be doing it so they can tell their friends at school. Our programs and intentions can be wonderful, but if they aren’t pointing kids directly to the source of the wonder, they aren’t worth the time it takes to photocopy. We need children transformed by Jesus’ love, and they will see this love when we show them what it looks like.

    Post date: 16/04/2014Post Author: Sally Contessi