Some may scoff at the idea of needing to be relevant in culture, but the fact remains that if the church truly wants to reach those who fit in the Millenial and Generation Z age groups, we must evolve. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it abundantly clear that change is necessary and that churches must be willing to get creative in the ways they reach people and share the Good News of Jesus.
But how can we be relevant in culture without sacrificing the message? How do we keep up with the changes in design, video, and social media?
These are questions that have different answers for every church community, but the overall truth is that if we want to reach people we wouldn’t usually reach, we have to do things we wouldn’t normally do.
If you know anyone in their early twenties or teenage years, you know there is one thing they are professionals at - sharing trending content. With the explosion of meme culture and apps like TikTok, it is prevalent for GenZ’s and younger Millennials to jump on the trend train.
Trends go away as quickly as they arrive, but churches need to recognize these trends and make an effort to join in on them.
How can you successfully keep up with trends?
It’s pretty simple, just follow those in younger generations and see what they are posting and engaging with!
If you want to be relevant in the current culture, you have to know what contemporary culture likes, shares, and creates themselves. You don’t want to merely make a cheap replication of whatever they are sharing, but you can tailor it to your specific church creativity. For example, find the latest viral meme and mesh it with your church’s culture. Have your staff learn a TikTok dance and share it. Whatever it may be, have fun with it and showcase your church through the content you put out.
If there is one thing culture is obsessed with, its fashion. Fear of God, Supreme, and the latest Yeezy by Kanye are just a few fashion staples that are lining the closets of the younger generation. Fashion, in fact, has shaped much of our culture, and whether we like it or not, fashion matters.
Churches all over are using their creativity by launching their own fashion lines of sorts.
While Justin Bieber may not sport your church gear like he does with Zoe Church and Hillsong NYC, your church can still be relevant in culture through your own creative merchandise.
Just like trends, fashion is ever-changing and is something you should be up-to-date with. Think about what your target audience is wearing. What colors do they like, styles of shirts do they go for, and even types of merch they may want. For example, crewnecks and dad-hats are two fashion pieces that are trending in the younger circle right now. Have your creative team whip up a great design and get your merch out there!
A hidden perk? Merch serves as almost-free advertising for your church community!
There are over 2 billion users on YouTube and over 800 million users on TikTok - two of the most popular video streaming and creation platforms. It is no question that video is one of the most effective ways to reach the younger generation. But video is often put on the back burner. Why? Because video content creation is time-consuming and can even have a bit of a learning curve.
The incredible thing about apps like TikTok is that the platform thrives on authentic content, trending topics, and personality.
It takes no more than an exciting video idea, relevant hashtags, and an iPhone to put your content out there.
YouTube, on the other hand, showcases longer, more polished videos but still has a considerable emphasis on authenticity. YouTube shouldn’t just be a dumping ground for past Sunday messages, but it is a place where your church’s character can really shine.
Instagram and Facebook are also popular platforms for video content and can be used to reach a broader and more diverse audience in a way that is still relevant. On these platforms, you can engage in more conversational discussion than just merely putting a video out there for people to consume.
It is no doubt that video is essential to be relevant in culture. Still, another way to maintain relevance is to understand what younger generations crave, and that is authenticity and conversation. Contrary to popular belief, GenZ is educated and wants to know how the world works. They are question-askers and seekers of truth and meaning. That is why we cannot just skate by on posting a monologue of only our thoughts and ideas, we should encourage conversation.
Through live videos on Instagram and Facebook, you can invite your audience to join in on the conversation.
A great way to do this is to host Q&A’s where your community (and potential community members) can ask in-depth questions they usually couldn’t ask on a Sunday. With discretion, you can encourage healthy conversations through a guided dialogue.
In a culture where we are regularly consuming, there has been a shift toward engagement-driven content and authentic online conversations. A great way to remain relevant during this shift is to value dialogue over just a monologue.
Out of all of the generations before them, GenZ is driven by a need to have a voice. This is not out of some vain need to be heard, but it is out of a deep-rooted desire to see things change in their generation. We need to remember that this generation is marked by their affluence to technology, yes, but they are also marked by devastating realities in their schools, towns, and culture.
They have seen injustices, violence, scare-tactics, and turmoil in the world their entire lives. In a way, culture has truly shaped them from the inside out. But they still have a voice that needs to be heard. They have deep-rooted needs that need to be met. They want to be the generation that changes the world as we currently know it.
When it comes down to it, GenZ and Millennials alike are the ones that will be leading our churches in the years to come, and it is vital we invest in them right here and now. So what does this have to do with creativity and relevance?
We can be relevant in our culture by giving the younger generations a voice through their creative gifts. Musicians, painters, dancers, designers, and poets saturate the culture of young people, and the church can use these gifts to further the Kingdom of God. What this looks like may vary church to church, but maybe it is as simple as sharing a poem from a younger congregant or allowing them to serve at a higher level.
Along these lines, we should take a good hard look at our leadership. What age group do they fall under? Diversifying leadership will not only help your church reach a wide range of people, but it also empowers your younger leaders to step into their God- given potential. Who knows, maybe they will bring something to the table that only someone their age could bring.
At the time of writing this blog, there are a ton of methods the church can follow to remain relevant in culture through their creativity. In years to come, this list will most certainly change as the culture around us evolves with the times.
Nonetheless, the church must be willing to change as the things around them change.
This doesn’t mean that they are “conforming to the world,” but it merely means that they are willing to become “all things to all people” as the Apostle Paul puts it.
To reach a dying world, we have to do just as Jesus did - step into the world and meet people exactly where they are.
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