What the Rising Generation Really Wants


What do non-Christian teens want when it comes to discussing matters of faith? They want authentic living. They want to see a person’s faith lived out in action. Before having a conversation about matters of faith, they want to know, “This is a person I can trust.”

In partnership with Alpha USA and Alpha Canada, the Barna Group recently conducted a survey of 1,324 young people between the ages of 13 and 18. When non-Christian Gen Z were asked to share their opinions on various approaches to evangelism, the majority said that, “seeing how the person behaves, allowing their actions to speak rather than using words to explain” was most appealing to them (23% very appealing, 32% somewhat appealing).

How do we, as the Body of Christ in the world, back our faith up with action?

The next generation is looking to us to show them something more substantial than words. They want to see Christians who don’t just say that God loves people but people who show that love, by acting as God’s hands and feet in the world. They want to see Christians whose words and actions are in harmony, living a life that is holistically connected to their beliefs. They want to see a vibrant, life-shaping faith, one where faith and action go hand in hand.

What they don’t want is hypocrisy, judgment, or to be put on the spot.

Of the non-Christians surveyed, more than half disliked when Christians quoted scripture or used Bible verses as evidence for Christianity (24% not very appealing, 34% not at all appealing). They didn’t like being put on the defensive, being asked to give the reason behind their own lifestyle choices and beliefs (23% not very appealing, 18% not at all appealing). And many of them didn’t like when someone wanted to pray for them as part of the conversation (19% not very appealing, 30% not at all appealing).

In other words, they didn’t want to feel pressured.

This is in keeping with other parts of the survey which asked what characteristics Gen Z would use to describe someone who is comfortable sharing their faith. 72% of non-Christian teens said that someone who is comfortable sharing their faith is, “someone who listens without judgment.” Christian teens agreed, with 66% saying, “someone who listens without judgment” was the top characteristic for evangelism.

In addition to this, 57% of non-Christian Gen Z and 44% of Christian Gen Z said that someone who is comfortable and confident sharing their faith is someone who, “doesn’t force a conclusion.”

Gen Z isn’t looking for the tent revival evangelists of the 20th century. Instead, they desire relational connections, knowing the other person’s life and seeing their faith in action. The next generation wants to have real, honest conversations; discussions about faith without pressure or judgment, leaving room for personal choice and the work of the Holy Spirit.

What does this mean for us, the global Church? How does this information help us to engage the next generation for Jesus?

We must ask ourselves some challenging questions about how we are sharing the gospel with Gen Z. Are we inviting them to sit and listen to a sermon? Or are we inviting them into active, relational, open, loving conversation? Are we showing that we can listen well? Are we allowing them to see our lives and actions? There is a deep need for the Church as a whole to love this generation well by holding space. Gen Z is not a generation to fix or a problem to solve, but a people to love. For this generation, love looks a lot like listening without shying away from the meaningful conversations around life, faith, and meaning.

Alpha is a wonderful opportunity for non-Christian and Christian teens to discuss faith and life in an environment that is judgment-free and centers on relational listening. It’s an opportunity for all of us to make space for the Spirit to work in our friends’ lives and in our communities.

As we begin 2022, we begin praying for the next generation—a generation that will be entering adulthood battered and bruised from the tensions of the last decade. They need our support, our understanding, our compassion. They want us to listen.

We pray that God would move mightily through Gen Z. That the Holy Spirit would change lives and hearts. And we pray that we, as the Church that goes before them, would be the kind of witnesses to the gospel that they long for and need.

See how Alpha supports the rising generation through the Alpha Youth Series here, and join us in the important work of creating spaces for Gen Z to participate in honest conversations about faith, life, and meaning.

Español

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Talleres en este Track

¿Cómo desarrollar la creatividad pastoral en tu equipo parroquial?

Speakers: Liliana Nariño, Directora Nacional, Alpha Colombia, and María Fernanda Acosta, Líder Regional, Alpha Ados

Presentaremos algunas nuevas técnicas que nos ayudan a crear una cultura de acogida y encuentro en la Parroquia.

¿Cómo alcanzar a la Generación Z Latina?

Speakers: Diego Profita, Regional Marketing And Digital Director Latin America at Alpha International, and Julian Avellaneda, Regional Alpha Youth Leader, Alpha Ados

Descubriremos algunas de las principales características de esta Generación más Abierta y trabajaremos en herramientas y estrategias para ser más efectivos en presentarles a Jesús.

¿Cómo construir una cultura invitacional en tu Iglesia?

Speakers: Diego Profita, Regional Marketing And Digital Director Latin America at Alpha International

Descubramos juntos como crear y fomentar en nuestras comunidades una cultura de invitación abordando

– Maneras en que la Iglesia puede fomentar la importancia de la invitación

– Maneras de cómo podemos guiar a nuestros equipos para que lo vivan

– Maneras de cómo poder identificar a las personas con mayor probabilidad de asistir

BEYOND THE WALLS

Inspiring and practical, learn how to bring the gospel everywhere you go and how to activate your church communities to see gospel opportunities beyond the walls of the church building. Hear stories of innovation and creativity, ecumenical and city-wide movements, and learn about what God is doing in unique contexts like prisons. With many workshops in this track, some are best suited for pastors and senior leaders, while others apply to anyone.

Workshops in this Track

Alpha in Criminal Justice System

Speakers: Audrey Hayes, Director of Volunteer Network, Alpha USA, and Benny Lopez, Prisons Coordinator, Alpha USA

There is an overlooked mission field in our own backyard, one full of people desperate for help, healing, and wholeness. It’s a place much of our society tends to dismiss, filled with people who believe they have been cast aside, and forgotten.

Alpha has been run in 630 prisons in 41 U.S. states. This course is brought to prisons and jails by dedicated churches and organizations who have run Alpha at their local church or parish and want to extend their reach even further. These volunteers tangibly show the love of Jesus to men and women that society had tossed away and labeled as unworthy, broken, dangerous, or beyond help. Through Alpha, prisoners are reminded that God does not label them—he loves them.

Join us in this workshop to hear stories and learn how to get started. You will be matched with a coach who will offer you support based on where you are in your prison ministry journey.

Unified City Alpha Initiative

Speakers: Seth Bazacas, Strategic City Director, New York, Alpha USA, and Shauna Pilgreen, Strategic City Director, Northern California, Alpha USA

What does it take to pull off a unified citywide Alpha launch? Join Strategic City Directors and Pastors Seth Bazacas (Wellspring Church NYC) and Shauna Pilgreen (Epic Church San Francisco) as they share their experiences of bringing a diverse group of churches into a shared vision, prayer night, weekly gatherings, and an overnight Alpha retreat. Hear stories of what worked and didn’t work and how both cities are gearing up for an even stronger launch in 2024!

Translating Jesus--A Crash Course for Sharing Your Faith Daily

Speakers: Shauna Pilgreen, Strategic City Director, Northern California, Alpha USA, and Ben Pilgreen, Lead Pastor, Epic Church San Francisco

As pastors and church leaders, we expect our attenders to share their faith. But do they? Come and imagine how your faith conversations can fuel an evangelism movement in your church.

Author and storyteller Shauna Pilgreen offers us a new way of evangelism using her latest book, Translating Jesus. She gets practical fast, teaching us two languages that lead to double-listening. Chances are high you’ll become bilingual in this workshop!

Shauna is joined by her husband Ben Pilgreen, pastor of Epic Church in San Francisco. Come, learn how a church can be winsome with culture without neglecting the gospel.

Fueling Creativity and Innovation in Evangelism

Speakers: Audrey Hayes, Director of Volunteer Network, Alpha USA, and Madison Campbell, Alpha Launch Director, Alpha USA

For innovative leaders who want their creativity to be fueled by the Spirit and to flood into their churches and communities. This will be a time of storytelling and dreaming about what God can do through creativity in our churches and Alpha courses. Come dream with us!

TRAINING LABS

These practical training workshops will help you learn how to run Alpha and how to make it the best it can be. Join us to experience the Alpha best practices of listening, radical hospitality, and dependence on the Holy Spirit. Select the workshops best suited for your stage of the Alpha journey to get the most from this track.

Workshops in this Track

Run Alpha--From a Course to a Culture (Mandarin interpretation available)

Speaker: Christian Downs, National Training Director, Alpha USA

Running Alpha is so much more than just a course, it is an opportunity to create space within your community and your church where people can belong before they believe. Run Alpha will help you see how this course is unique by focusing on the values of invitation, hospitality, listening, and dependence on the Holy Spirit.

Grow Alpha--Expand, Enhance, Empower (Mandarin interpretation available)

Speaker: Christian Downs, National Training Director, Alpha USA

This workshop will help you expand the culture, enhance your Alpha course with best practice insights, and empower your team. A common takeaway from this workshop is how Alpha can be more than a course and start to impact the rest of the church.

Creating a Culture Where Everyone is Invited to Alpha (Mandarin interpretation available)

Speaker: Christian Downs, National Training Director, Alpha USA

How do we get more guests on our Alpha? This is the question that comes up most often. In this workshop, we will explore what it looks like to bring the good news of Jesus to everyone… including those cast aside, neglected, or overlooked by society. We will name the fears that limit us, ways the church can help, and practical tips that everyone can put into practice to lead an invitational lifestyle.

Join our Global Director of Prayer, our National Director of Training, and special guests at this combined workshop to help more people receive an invite to explore the life-changing impact of the gospel.

CATHOLIC

Designed with our Catholic guests in mind, we will unpack the missional call of the Eucharistic Revitalization, sacred listening, and how to care for your soul in the ministry journey. This track could also benefit any Protestant ministry leaders in liturgical contexts.

Workshops in this Track

Nourishment for the Soul in the Journey of Ministry

Speakers: Sarah Kaczmarek, Director of Pastoral Ministry, Encounter Ministries, and Monica Martinez, National Director for Catholic Context, Alpha USA

How can we ensure we’re growing personally so that we are operating out of Christ’s strength and not our own?

Reviving Eucharistic Culture

Speaker: Monica Martinez, National Director for Catholic Context, Alpha USA

A time for meaningful reflection, conversation, and prayer around our missional call, awakened by the Eucharist. Together, we will unpack the meaning of the Eucharist as our source and summit of living our intentional discipleship.

Translating the Sacred

Speaker: Rick Grinstead, Director of Alpha Youth, Catholic Context

How do we fill the large gap once people have heard the gospel but have not yet acclimatized to parish life? How do we prepare the parish community to make space and build bridges, and how do we prepare guests who will be transitioning from Alpha to mass to sacramental formation? 

ENCOUNTER

This track is full of amazing main-stage speakers who will showcase the power of prayer in every generation, equip you to live a naturally supernatural life and train you to heal as Jesus did. Senior pastors, church leaders, non-profit leaders, this track is you!

Workshops in this Track

Learnings from Asbury on the Power of Prayer

Speaker: Angela Chadwick, Global Director of Prayer, Alpha USA

Alpha’s Global Director of Prayer will interview some of the spiritual leaders involved in the Asbury revival where a chapel worship service caught the attention of our country. You’ll hear stories of how the students were deeply moved by God through the simplest forms of worship and how the leaders made sure the only celebrity on stage was Jesus. You’ll also be amazed by the powerful breakthroughs in young people’s lives through the gentlest of prayers.

Additionally, we will explore how the resurgence of faith in one small American town is relevant to every person in the Church and how it shapes how we share the good news in a good way with this generation.

How to Facilitate Eternal Connections with Jesus

Speaker: Danielle Strickland, Spiritual Leader, Justice Advocate, Communicator, Peacemaker

Encounter is God’s favorite way to spiritual revelation. Why do we emphasize information-formation as our primary means of discipleship? What if we put more time, energy, and effort into facilitating more encounters? Be prepared to discuss together how cultivating curiosity becomes a means to do just that. We will talk techniques, experiences, and new ideas.

Everyday Miracles

Speakers: Dr. Chloe Swart, Associate National Director for Alpha UK, and Dr. Russo Swart, New Wine Cymru Prophetic and Healing Team

This workshop will look at how to heal the sick as a part of our everyday missional lives. Following Chloe’s PhD studying healing miracles in Wales, Chloe found that Christians in Wales were praying for their friends, family, and colleagues, in the gym, in the supermarket, at work; wherever they found themselves, as well as in church services, and Alpha courses. Healing is a missional tool that points toward Jesus. Unpack the theology of healing, while also hearing very practical teaching and demonstration of how to heal the sick in an everyday way.

YOUTH

If you are a student, work with middle or high school students, or just love young people and want their voices to shape the future of the Church, this track is for you! We’ll talk about empowering a generation to lead and will equip you to draw out the leadership of a generation to reach their peers through the new Alpha Youth Series and beyond.

Workshops in this Track

Navigating the New Alpha Youth Series

Speakers: Jordan Biere, National Director of Alpha Youth, Alpha USA, and Josh Penwell, National Associate Director of Alpha Youth, Alpha USA

Explore the the new Alpha Youth Series, discover the adjustments we’ve made to better reach Gen Z/Gen Alpha, and how to use this new series best to help young people discover and develop a relationship with Jesus.

Helping Young People Walk Naturally Supernatural

Speakers: Jordan Biere, National Director of Alpha Youth, Alpha USA, and Josh Penwell, National Associate Director of Alpha Youth, Alpha USA

Learn how to help young people operate in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit in a way that seems natural (not super weird) yet clearly supernatural. Help them discern the voice of the Lord, pray for healing, and grow in the prophetic voice.

From Guests to Leaders, Activating the Leadership Potential of Young People

Speakers: Jordan Biere, National Director of Alpha Youth, Alpha USA, and Josh Penwell, National Associate Director of Alpha Youth, Alpha USA

A practical guide on creating space for activating young people toward leadership to become bold, Spirit-filled witnesses. Learn how to empower young people to lead their own Alpha for their friends and how you can champion Gen Z and Gen Alpha.

FAITH AND JUSTICE

How should the Church respond in the face of injustice? What about in an election year? Could we show up to a polarized political world with the goodness of God like never before? If you are interested in learning how to navigate these complex issues, this track could help!

Workshops in this Track

Navigating the Waters of Faith and Politics

Speakers: John Wentz, Executive Director, Alpha USA, and Josh Williams, Associate National Director of Evangelism and Justice, Vineyard USA

This election year is ramping up to be as polarized as ever. Equip yourself and your teams to navigate the choppy waters of faith and politics during an election cycle. We have a massive opportunity to bring the goodness of God into these conversations or to leave people feeling alienated. Learn five top tips to help your conversations be filled with grace and truth and leave people feeling heard and honored.

Lessons in Evangelism from MLK’s nonviolent Movement

Speaker: Josh Williams, Associate National Director of Evangelism and Justice, Vineyard USA

How should the Church respond in the face of injustice? Hear how lessons from Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent movement provide tools to speak out against injustice while presenting a compelling case for the gospel. Josh Williams, associate national director for evangelism and justice for Vineyard USA will host this workshop where you will hear stories and learn tangible practices for engaging injustice while extending the invitation for people to encounter Jesus.

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