Topic: Pastor Can Be Friend to Nurture Generation Z

A picture shows some young persons lying on the grass.
A picture shows some young persons lying on the grass. (photo:
By Steve Sun December 20th, 2022

Editor's note: For pastors, it is indeed a real challenge to serve generation Z which has its own specific character and ways of thinking, as pastoral care itself is a very complicated and energy-consuming task.

Pastor Wangdu (pseudonym), born after 1990 in East China, who has been engaged in pastoral work for generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) in the past three years, was interviewed by the Christian Times, an online Christian newspaper. This is the first episode of the serial interview "How the Chinese Church Ministers to Generazatoin Z". 

Christian Times: What’s the reason why pastors are at a loss facing generation Z?

Wang Du: In my opinion, pastors need to speak persuasively rather than just uphold the Bible. Judging from some short contacts and some online exchanges in the past, I think that generation Z can’t keep an appointment. For example, maybe one day he promised you to come tomorrow, but the next day he told you that he didn’t have time. But the millennials are more trustworthy, and they can attend gatherings regularly if their Christian parents urge them to worship God. However, generation Z can’t insist on gathering if few people can lead them to the church.

Christian Times: How do you think the church could build trust with generation Z?

Wang Du: I think pastors need to have more meals with them, chat more, and get together more to develop a relationship with them. Vulnerable and sensitive in terms of social interaction, generation Z, I think, is still different from post-90s, or even completely different.

Christian Times: Which do you think is better, a paternal pastor or a friend one?

Wang Du: I prefer a friend-like pastor, as a patriarchal pastor is a self-centered shepherd. I think it is not easy for friend-like pastors to spend a lot of time building the kind of friendship to understand and play with them.

The young generation might not like paternal pastors who just set a time for gatherings rather than consider their preferences and situation. But if you respect them like friends and cultivate a relationship through meetings, they will be willing to turn to you and tell you about themselves. Otherwise, they won’t talk to you. You would have the opportunity to help them if they want to share with you.

Christian Times: Are Christians’ worldviews, outlooks on life, and values challenged in the secular world?

Wang Du: Almost all the local generation Z want to take the clerical civil service exam, from national to provincial to village exam. They would deny faith at will if it is needed in the exam. In addition, they also receive a lot of information in reference to non-religious beliefs on the internet. Apart from understanding the Bible, I think Chinese pastors should pay attention to and explain social events with the truth, so they can serve the teens better with authority and ability.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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