It seems that no generation has been faced with more lies and falsehoods than the upcoming Gen Z.
However, one young, popular Christian author and TV star believes many of them are starving for discipleship and truth.
The question, she says, is will Christians embrace them and lead them to Jesus or not?
In an entertainment-driven world and a polarized society fueled by social media, many young people – specifically 20 and 30-something millennials and Gen Z’ers – are increasingly turning their attentions to celebrities and politicians for guidance and mentorship.
But Christian author and celebrity Sadie Robertson Huff, 23, is urging her peers to “cultivate a relationship with Jesus.”
“There are a lot of people watching Christianity and a lot of people listening to Christianity, but not a lot of people actually dropping their net and following Jesus,” Huff said during the recent “Gen Z” session of the 2020 Q&A: A Virtual Townhall.
“If that does happen, and that can happen in an instant, then we’re actually going to see an amazing thing happen.”
Huff, a Christian author who gained fame through her family’s popular reality TV show, “Duck Dynasty,” says young people today are craving a community, but church leaders aren’t asking enough from them.
Huff, who participated in the event with other young Christian leaders, said she’s heard church leaders suggest not holding services at night because “that is the night that college kids like to party.”
“And I’m like, ‘That’s why we should do a conference that night, because people are going to party if we expect too little,’” Huff said.
“Let them [decide] if they’re going to go with the world or if they’re going to go with God, because you’ve got to make that decision.”
Huff, who is expecting her first child, says she believes young Christians today are not “lukewarm” about their passions like the generations from the ‘90s and 2000s.
“It’s pretty hot or cold because it’s actually really cool to stand for something these days,” she said.
“It’s cool to 100 percent follow God, and it’s cool to 100 percent stay in the world. It’s really not cool to be in the middle anymore. And it used to be different.”
A recent survey appears to support Huff’s assessment. According to the Beckett law firm’s second annual Religious Freedom Index, Gen Z Americans have been relying on faith more than other generations since the pandemic.
The report found that 74 percent of Gen Z respondents believe that faith is “at least somewhat important” during the pandemic, while 51 percent said faith overall is “extremely or very important.”
Gen Z (ages 8-23) rated higher than all other generations, with Gen X and Millennials rating lowest.
In a politically divided nation where issues like abortion, religious liberty, and racial and social justice creates controversy, Huff says today’s generation is living in a “polarizing” world and needs to take a stand.
“You do have to choose,” she said.
“I think we do need to say to this generation, ‘choose,’ and let the people who are going to be on fire, be on fire. I think, in that way, we can reach more of the lost than being confused by who’s actually lost.”
Gabrielle Odom, a 19-year-old evangelist who participated in the forum with Huff, agrees and says the next generation is not being challenged or asked clear questions on Christianity.
“I’ve seen a lot of soft doctrines that have broken my heart as it pertains to teaching the next generation. I’m begging for clarity,” he said.
“I think that my generation is spiraling and going out of control because there are too many tensions to fight through and no one’s giving clear absolute truth.”
“And I think the next generation is craving clarity because I think there are churches that are starving us of it.”
Both Huff and Odom discussed how so many young people today are suffering from anxiety and mental health issues, fueled in part by their reliance on social media.
“It’s created this thing for us where we’re always performing; we’re always filtering, we’re always trying to be the best version of ourselves — and not in a good way.”
“And that is mentally exhausting,” Huff said.
She is encouraging her peers not to settle for being “liked” on social media, but to find worth and approval in God.
Social media she says, “can’t give you what only God can give you.”
Huff says her generation is craving mentors and discipleship, but are afraid to ask for it.
“If you came up to us and said, ‘Can I disciple you?’ I know my answer would be yes every time.”
“And I know a whole lot of people who would agree with me who are my age.”
Huff and Odom said older Christians need to ask themselves, “Will we fight for Gen Z?”
“There are a lot of people that are fighting for our attention,” Odom said.
“Will the church also fight for us? Does the church care enough to bring us into the legacy they are creating? There’s a legacy to be built, and the younger generation is going to take up that baton, and so it matters to equip them.”
Huff is urging young Christians to “be in your prayer closet” and “reading your word.”
“In the next year, will we see our young people continue on that path of depression and loneliness and hopelessness?”
“Or are they going to say, ‘What am I going to do with my loneliness? What am I going to do with my hopelessness?’ And maybe find Jesus in that.”