Today’s church staffing includes passionate young adults who have the potential to shape and grow churches. By understanding their priorities, pastors and other church leaders can encourage their gifts.

In the past, we have taken time to speak about millennials and how you can lead them well and retain them within your church or organization. And now, workplaces are learning to navigate how to hire and lead a new generation: Gen Z. You may have noticed this shift recently as you have begun to hire recent graduates — and you may even have some within your team already! As one of the most educated generations in history, Gen Z is entering the workforce with fervor. Though this generation is similar to millennials in some ways, they are also drastically different from the generations before them in others. By keeping these differences in mind as you hire, lead, and equip them, you’ll be on your way to long-term success.

1. They want their work to matter.

Possibly more than ever before, this generation values finding meaning in their work. Having grown up post 9/11 and coming of age in the throes of COVID-19 and a massive social justice movement, they want to know that their work is actually worthwhile and is going to make a difference in a clearly broken world. It’s important that you are able to clearly cast your vision and show Gen Z workers how your organization as a whole is doing meaningful work and how their individual role contributes directly to that cause.

2. Digital literacy is important to them.

Most of Gen-Z spent their entire childhoods with access to the internet in some capacity. As digital natives, not only are they digitally literate, but they expect the same from their workplace. If you do not have clear methods of online communication and digital networking within your organization, these new team members will inevitably become burnt out as they feel responsible for the burden of communication. Additionally, keep in mind that, having been raised with the internet, they grew up in a globally connected environment. Because of this, they are accustomed to being interconnected to a myriad of people with different backgrounds, beliefs, and perspectives, which leads into our next point.

3. They value diversity.

As an incredibly diverse generation, it’s no wonder that Gen Z-ers tend to seek out environments with a diversity of thought, background, ethnicity, race, and beliefs. Your Gen Z staff and potential staff want to know that within your organization, they will find both people who look, speak, and act like them and people who don’t. This is why building a culture of diversity, equity, and belonging is so important. Not only does a diverse organization reflect the Kingdom, but it is an active draw to this new generation.

4. Trust is earned.

We’ve all heard the statistics about Gen Z being the most secular generation in years. With the rise of social media and constant media connection to and coverage of global disasters, members of Gen Z have learned to ask questions and too often think the worst, which has driven many from the Church. Know that most Gen Z-ers are not cynical or abrasive for the sake of challenging authority but for the sake of ensuring that those they are working alongside are trustworthy. They want to be able to invest 100% in the work that they are doing, so they will likely not feel fully embedded in your church or organization until they have experienced the day-to-day work and know that you are doing what you say you will do, foster a healthy work environment, and cultivate good, meaningful work.

5. They want clarity and authenticity.

In an ever-changing market, and as we are continuing to experience The Great Resignation, available jobs are by no means scarce. This means that a new generation coming into the workforce has enough job opportunities to be selective. And as they apply for a variety of jobs, they want to clearly know exactly what they can expect in the culture of your church or organization, within specific departments, and in individual roles. You can foster this by creating an environment, both in the interview process and in the workplace, where they will be able to ask questions and receive thoughtful answers and feedback. While these are not universal standards to be applied to every person under 25 within your church or organization, it can help frame your conversations with them. Take time to get to know your young team members and learn what exactly you can do to train them up into a new generation of eventual leaders. Pastors and church leaders can grow churches by recognizing differences in working with Gen Z.  

Learn more about William Vanderbloemen and the Vanderbloemen Search Group. This article originally appeared here.

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