Generation Z (born 2000-2016). They’re starting to get noticed in the Church. They use Snapchat like it’s oxygen,?and most of them hate the concept of Facebook. Why would they want to hang out where their parents are?
This can lead to a problem for those trying to communicate within the church. Facebook has become a bit of a mandate in church marketing and communication. And now we find out that it doesn’t work for the next generation! (They might have profiles, but they sure don’t use them.)?How’s a church communicator to survive in a situation like that?
I got the privilege of hosting my teenage sister-in-law at my house this summer. I asked her pointed questions about her use of social media, current slang, and a host of other things in an attempt to understand her better. Based on some research and some enlightening conversations with young Lucia, I think I’ve come up with a few things churches need to start changing if they’re going to be effective at communicating to this next generation.
I’m not saying don’t have call-to-actions or to make signing up for things a difficult process. I’m talking about over-simplifying life. Life is difficult, and Generation Z knows it. They’re known for being beyond their years when it comes to this stuff. So stop throwing around words like “life-changing”?so casually. They don’t buy that every event is life-changing. They know life-change is harder than that.[quote]Life is difficult, and Generation Z knows it.[/quote]
This has been a progressive shift for many generations, including Millennials. But?for Generation Z, this matters even more. Be honest with your communication. You can use words like “fun” or “profound”. But acknowledge that things can be difficult and drastic changes don’t happen overnight.
Stop Sounding Closed-Minded
This generation no longer shares traditional Judeo-Christian values. They’re?more open-minded to things many churches are still vehemently opposing. I’m not saying your church should change its stance on things you feel strong convictions about. But you also can’t assume that everyone in your church or everyone you’re marketing to shares the same values that you do.
Generation Z-ers are?willing to hear rational conversations about important topics, but sounding closed-minded from the get-go will shut their ears to anything you have to say. Be aware that values are changing and you’ll be much more effective in this communication game.[quote]Sounding closed-minded from the get-go will shut their ears to anything you have to say.[/quote]
Start Understanding Digital Socializing
Finally, you have to realize that the younger generation uses social media in a completely different way. For most of us, social media is a supplement?to our physical life. For Generation Z (and even many Millennials), there’s no demarkation between social media and physical life. The connection is just as profound in both places.
If you’re only trying to get Generation Z-ers to come to your church so you can communicate with them, you’re missing out on the majority of your potential influence. Churches need to start communicating even more on social media ? not just marketing, but real communication. There needs to be give and take. The lines between physical and digital need to blur.[quote]Churches need to start communicating even more on social media ? not just marketing, but real communication.[/quote]
Online church marketing needs to stop being?about promoting events and instead needs to be about building trust. That’s really what effective marketing is all about anyways; when you have trust, communicating and asking for things is easy.
So start working on the shift your church needs to make. Reach out to some Generation Z-ers in your church and start learning about the things they value. Your communication efforts will become richer and more effective.
I’m even convinced embracing this new communication strategy will make you more effective with older generations too. Culture is shifting, and this next generation is leading the charge. Don’t let your church get left behind.