Mobilizing Gen Z to the Ends of the Earth – SWOT Analysis
Kristen K. White, PhD
When I first surrendered to full-time Christian service in high school, as the church minister shook my hand that Sunday night, he said, “You will probably end up doing something in ministry that you haven’t even heard of yet.” He was right; it would be another seven years before I heard the word mobilization. During the 30 years since that clarion call to ministry, I have graduated college, served overseas in Central Asia for two years, earned several more degrees, lived in different states, worked at several Christian colleges, and become a mobilizer of the next generation.
Ralph Winter once described the purpose of mobilization by saying, “Because the need to sound the alarm is so great. It is more strategic to awaken one hundred sleeping firemen rather than throw your own little bucket of water on the huge fire by yourself.” I believe this quote sums up mobilization pretty succinctly, and let me add that it is not easy to awaken college students to the urgency of proclaiming God’s name among all the nations, which is about 12,000 people groups – of which about 7,000 are unreached with the gospel.
I always envision the Z standing for zeal when I think of Gen Z. Romans 12:11 says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord.” When we awaken Gen Zeal, we will unleash the greatest team of firemen and firewomen to the ends of the earth. They are eager to change the world and think they can do it, and I would argue with God’s power working within them that He can (Ephesians 3:20). So, with people’s souls at stake, let’s do a quick SWOT analysis for mobilizing Gen Z.
- Strength – In addition to their zeal, Gen Z believes in kingdom mission, meaning they believe in the combined church and social mission. In other words, their holistic approach to loving their neighbors encourages them to meet both spiritual and physical needs. They aim to proclaim the gospel in word and demonstrate it in action.
- Weakness – Gen Z is notorious for having an external locus of control as opposed to an internal locus of control. This means they believe more things happen to them from outside sources instead of taking personal responsibility for them. So, when spiritual opposition arises, they see these external forces as roadblocks instead of detours that might increase their perseverance and resilience, which will be needed character qualities on the field.
- Opportunity – Many of our own young people in America have a better understanding of the shame-honor paradigm that many other collectivistic cultures overseas operate from. Most of my generation, Gen X, grew up understanding sin and the gospel from the guilt-innocent perspective. Neither is wrong, just different. Perhaps God has raised up the next wave of cross-cultural laborers with a new lens that will help them more effectively share truth and hope.
- Threat – Gen Z is extremely risk averse and overly concerned about providing for themselves financially that they may not depend on God to provide and protect them. While they may be less concerned about raising financial support as they grew up with crowdfunding GoFundMe, Gen Z will be more concerned about missing summer work opportunities if they participate in short-term international service projects. Their pragmatic approach may push back on the Holy Spirit’s guidance stronger than previous generations.
Overall, the outlook for Gen Z being mobilized to the nations is exciting. I think their strengths and opportunities outweigh their weaknesses and threats. Mobilization is definitely a worthwhile ministry that I, along with many others, have dedicated our lives to. May we awaken thousands of sleeping firemen and firewomen, particularly among Gen Z, so that they have a lifetime of service to advance God’s kingdom.