This Generation are impossible to disciple
They never change or grow.
They are super uncommitted.
We just talk about the same stuff every time we meet.
Does this sound familiar? I know it is hard when we are putting a shift in and we are seeing minimal fruit. I promise it probably isn't as bad as you think though! This isn't a lost generation. They have so much to give. I was blessed as a millennial at university to have a couple of great mentors, but I was super aware that as a generation there was a massive lack of mature Christians in the generation above me which meant many of my peers didn't have access to people who could help shape them. Honestly most of the things we are currently saying about Gen Z are things that were said about my generation.
My hope for the next generation is that we would be ready and willing to step up and take them under our wing as they emerge into our student groups even though it may be tough sometimes.
But how do we do it?
Well here are my top 3 tips for mentoring Gen Z students which can be used alongside almost any mentoring or discipleship structure you use in your church.
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him."
1 John 5:14-15 (NIV)
We don't need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to mentoring people. Prayer is ALWAYS going to be the most effective method we have of mentoring students. The fact is, as with most aspects of our Christian walk, God does 99% of the work and then allows us the privilege of doing 1%. It's almost like a parent cooking with their child. Most of the hard and dangerous work is done by the time the kids get their hands on anything.
The only way to see students get serious with their faith is through answered prayer that is consistent and deliberate. We are rarely going to see any meaningful results if we are looking for students to grow and mature but we aren't bringing them before Jesus.
When do you pray for the students you mentor? Could you block out a small amount of time regularly to do battle on their behalf outside of your regular meetings?
"In addition to our regular meetings I am giving you a card system to access my time when you absolutely need it - just like in football. If you come to me and say 'I have a yellow card situation' I know that something is going on and you need to chat in the next couple of days. I will do my absolute best to find some time between the meetings and work to fit you in by the end of the week no matter what. If you come to me and say 'I have a red card situation', I know you need immediate support and I will do my best to make space today to chat. This system is a privilege and not a right, so only use them when you absolutely have to.
The above conversation was what my first ever mentor at University said to me when he agreed to take me under his wing. I was already overwhelmed that someone thought I was worth enough to regularly hang out with me and invest in me, but he made it very clear that his commitment to me was not just a monthly meeting where he asks me how I am. Mentoring has to be more than just a regular catch up, and the best mentors I have had are always the ones who are willing to sacrifice something of their comfort and time in order to give me their best. Gen Z have been identified as the loneliest generation which means that telling someone you want to invest in them and giving them real permission to interrupt your day can actually be a life changing event. Sometimes the lack of commitment can actually be translated to a lack of permission.
Are you willing to be interrupted by the students you mentor? How much of your time and energy are you willing to sacrifice to see the people you mentor thrive?
Ask Good Questions
I recently wrote another blog on my frustration at our culture of asking bad questions, specifically "hi, how are you?". The art of asking the right question is a skill which can be developed by anyone, and has the power to carve out truth in any situation. Jesus was a master of it! He asks significantly more questions than He answers. Mentoring shouldn't just be an advice giving service. It needs to be a place where we expand our understanding of what discipleship is by asking about all areas. Where we discover how not only our spiritual disciplines affect our walk with Jesus, but also our lifestyle and relationships.
One great tool for this is the Fusion Discipleship Deck. I take one to all of my one to ones out of habit now. We ask one another a couple of questions from a deck of cards at random before we talk about anything else. It means I don't just chat to students about the same issue every time we meet which is a bonus, but it also gives permission to speak about areas which students may not be 100% sure they are allowed to chat about.
What is the best question you have ever been asked? How can you mix up the questions you are asking the students you mentor?
That's a wrap
So remember when you disciple young people to pray, be available, and ask good questions. When you do these three things you might start to see some change and find that what you thought was impossible begins to be very possible, and that a new generation of mature believers is ready to do their part on campus.
We believe in the art of great question asking so we created a tool to help conversations get real, quickly. We want to get the Discipleship Deck into the hands of as many students, Student Workers and Small Group Leaders as possible so for this week only we are offering 10% off, no matter how many you buy!
Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash