3 Steps to Reaching a Younger Audience Online

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We are all probably tired of hearing about COVID-19. This pandemic was unexpected but whether we like it or not this is our new reality. However, one positive change we have seen is an increase in churches who are offering services online. There is a lot of good that can come from having an online presence for your church. 

One positive thing in particular, is your ability to reach younger generations, including millennials and Gen Z.  Gen Z is defined as people born between 1995 and 2015 – so the oldest Gen Z people are in their early 20s. As a member of Gen Z, I feel like I have a unique insight into how church leaders can reach my generation during this time and how going online is  actually an opportunity rather than a hurdle. 

Many people from previous generations may feel they have little to nothing in common with the Gen Z population, but they might actually have more in common than you think. Whether you are wanting to connect with the Gen Zers in your church who cannot be there physically, or you want to reach out to Gen Z because there are not many people in that age range in your church,  being online is essential. Reaching out can be easy and practical even if you are not super tech savvy. 

So how can you reach Gen Z in an online world? Here are 3 practical ways that you can grow your Gen Z ministry online.

1. Set Up Online Services That Last Past COVID.

Gen Z is the first generation to have never known life without the internet and social media. The way that Gen Z “does” church is different than any generation before them. 

Most Gen Zers who are active in their faith have a home church that they regularly attend on Sundays and then several other churches that they interact with throughout the week. My generation is very on the go and as we get older, finish college, and start our careers we want encouragement that goes beyond the typical Sunday morning church service.

This opens up a whole new opportunity for your church to interact with people who do not go to your church and would not be able to interact with you if it were not for the internet. This is a huge opportunity for outreach because like me, many members of Gen Z are used to watching churches online, listening to church podcasts, and interacting with churches on social media. 

The circumstances with COVID have pushed many churches who did not yet have an online presence to enter the online environment. So even as your church opens for in-person services, it’s important to keep your online services too – who knows, you may find a whole new audience of younger people watching! 

Need an easy way to stay online? We offer freeonlinechurch.com which is a FREE service that you can set up in 5 minutes to start streaming your church services on your website – where there is less distraction than on Facebook and YouTube. 

2. Connect on Social Media

Another way to connect with Gen Z beyond streaming is through social media. Instagram specifically is the social media platform where most Gen Zers hang out. This is the place to have a presence to attract Gen Z to your church. 

Setting up an Instagram account is important, but the content is really what is going to attract Gen Z and make them want to check out your church. Instagram is vital because most members of my generation will look at a church’s Instagram as a first impression and a good Instagram could be the difference between someone coming to your church or not. 

You do not need to be a social media guru to have a good church Instagram and connect with the younger generation. One of the keys to being successful with Instagram is relevant content and that means posting frequently and posting content that is engaging. 

Don’t know how to do that? No worries! Outreach Social is a great way to have a “fire” Iinstagram as the kids say. With this monthly subscription you have access to 2200+ graphics and a free scheduler so you can have great Instagram graphics in no time and if you subscribe now, you get 50% off your first year!

3. Have Authentic Conversations Online

Streaming, social media, and all things online are important but they will not be effective unless you have conversations and are authentic. Gen Z, just like any other generation, wants authentic connection and that can be hard to find in the online world,  so when a member of Gen Z finds an online church that is authentic, it is very attractive to them. 

Being authentic is quite simple and starts with building connection. Ask questions, make videos of you offering advice on a topic, share a verse that has impacted you, show what a day in the life of your staff looks like, send Direct Messages (DMs) thanking people for following you and offering them ways to connect, go “live”, and find ways to practically encourage people. 

One thing that personally catches my attention on social media is when a church posts a short 30-60 second video of a section of the sermon. Oftentimes, it is videos like this that make my day and then make me go back and watch that sermon. 

The more you can be “real” on social media and give people something to relate to, the more likely they will be to want to attend your church online and be encouraged by the hope found in Jesus.These are all great ideas but at the end of the day authenticity looks different for each church and that is what makes church special. Find what is authentic to your church and just share the hope and love of Jesus and you will attract Gen Z.

Conclusion

This is a unique time for us all, but the transition to the online environment opens up doors to connection if the church knows how to reach Gen Z. This generation has so much potential and fire for the Lord that is so exciting to see, and it is important that your church knows how to engage with them and reach them with the message of Jesus. Invest in the younger generation, pour into them, and encourage them in their faith. That is what they crave and the internet is a great place to do that.

Izabelle Gurley is a Senior at Grand Canyon University (Lopes Up!) in Phoenix, AZ studying communications with minors in marketing and graphic design. She has been interning in the marketing department at Outreach for the past year and absolutely loves it. She has a passion for marketing and all things social media, but still finds time to get outside and enjoy the beauty of Colorado and Arizona!

Izabelle Gurley

Izabelle Gurley